Category Archives: Airbus

RwandAir Airbus A330

After almost three hours winding through about a dozen checkpoints and queues inside Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, it was quite a pleasant sight to get to see daylight and planes lined up.

Three days before, Rwandair flight 200 from Kigali to Lagos was operated by a B737-700 and 201 from  Lagos to Kigali was also meant to be on a similar aircraft, but parked in at the gate  was an  unusually large Rwandair plane.

RwandAir recently acquired an Airbus A330-200 (christened Ubumwe) and with another Airbus A330-300 due in November, they are making a big splash about the planes. The new aircraft even featuring in minister’s speech in Lagos and on TV and newspaper advertisements about Rwandair connecting Africa (never mind that Ethiopian, KQ, SAA, Arik have had similar wide-body twin jets for a decade).rwanda-a330-2

On this day, many of the electronic systems at the Lagos  airport were down, and virtually everything was done manually, with boarding passes written by hand. At check-in, I had asked for an aisle seat and the man at the counter nodded in acknowledgment, but when I looked at my boarding pass, my seat number was “F/S” – as was everyone else’s – this meant “free-seating”.

The airline staff at the boarding gate first ushered in the passengers who were in business class, and this included Clare Akamanzi,  Head, Strategy & Policy Unit, Office of the Rwanda President, who had been down in the queues, and gone through the whole laborious check in process like an ordinary passenger, including having her suitcase opened, then wrapped for security purposes. The airport staff said she was a Minister but clearly she did not behave like any minister they might have seen.

Other passengers were then allowed on board, with through the jet bridge that had been placed at a mid-cabin door and were then directed to pick any seat in economy class. The new plane has two large economy class cabins, a small premium economy one, and a business one near the front, for a total capacity of 274 passengers. Everyone in economy flopped into a seat relieved at the abundance bin space and many empty seats on the flight.

Points about the flight, using this borrowed format (via AU traveller)  

Airline review: RwandAir economy class, Lagos to Kigali

The airline operates a dream miles program on a visa card, but this was only my first round trip with RwandAir. The airline is also not part of any miles alliance partnership now.

rwanda-a330CLASS: Economy, window in the third row of the second cabin.

DURATION: 4h 30m.

FREQUENCY: WB 201 between Lagos to Kigali is 4X a week: Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun  (12:00 17:30)

THE SEAT: The configuration here is 2-4-2 in both economy cabins and many of the seats were empty. All the seats have personal touch screen entertainment displays, with light and flight attendant controls. There is also a USB  charger next to the screen.

ENTERTAINMENT: The touch screen system was quite nimble. My first set of headphones, given out after take-off did not work, but the second one did. You touch the screen and pick out  movies, TV clips, and games. The selection is rather thin, and you have to pause to escape from a menu but the system is nice once you’re used to it.

The touchscreen menu options are in 6 languages – English, Kinyarwanda, French, Swahili Arabic, and Mandarin?/Chinese. There were other menu options like gambling games, a kids selection with games and movies and a music selection – with pop hits, African, Classical etc. I flipped back and forth between “Batman vs. Superman” and “Avatar” movies, and the system allows you to resume from where you left off in any movie or game.

BAGGAGE: This was dictated by Murtala airport where there is an elaborate  but time-consuming luggage procedure of weighing, tagging, scanning, searching physically, then wrapping the bags . A friend who had flown in from Kigali with two small backpacks was now told he could only carry one bag on board and check the other one as luggage on this RwandAir flight. We all lost our luggage and filed reports in Nairobi and the luggage has just been delivered (two days later).

COMFORT: Both the RwandAir legs between Lagos and Kigali are afternoon flights that arrive in the evening and match morning arrivals and night departures from Kigali, Rwanda.

SERVICE: The flight took off about twenty minutes late and there were several apologies made during P/A announcements to passengers.  In addition to the entertainment system, there is a Wi-Fi service on board though I was not able to connect. But @LucyMbabazi did on the very next RwandAir Airbus A330 flight and she happily reported on that, and other niceties  like a  massage chair. lucya330biz

 FOOD: There was a chicken or beef option with lunch about an hour into the flight.  The crew had two meal services sessions, one with the meal, a beverage before touchdown from which they did not deviate . They were rather stingy and would not add an extra beer, unlike the crew on the earlier RwandAir 737 flight. They also serve Rwandan coffee or tea. The meal serving trays are rather small, and you find yourself placing wrappers and utensils in your lap as you peel and eat.

ONE MORE THING: On landing in Kigali, RwandAir ground staff knew that there were late passengers connecting on  to other flight and they gave them priority with simultaneous  immigration and check-in e.g. for Entebbe, Johannesburg and Nairobi They had even pre-printed boarding passes for some passengers, and called them up by name to rush them through to the next flights –  nice attention to detail!

rwanda-a330-3

Some facilities are different about the  plane and that may mean they may have some breakages e.g with the bathroom doors that fold in the middle to open, rather than swing out (many passengers pushed and pulled them) and the headphones have a jack you fold in half to insert and use) .

THE VERDICT: Nice RwandAir flight on the new aircraft. The crew was probably testing out the new A330 and wanted to be efficient with a minister on board.

Kenya Airways 2009 AGM

Kenya Airways (KQ) is the cradle of blogging for me – one of their annual general meeting’s (AGM) is the place it all started, the place where the inspiration for blogging, since then it’s been a ritual to attend because I like planes and investments similarly. This year’s AGM, held on September 25, was the first I’ve attended at Kasarani sports gymnasium; previous ones were at their Embakasi HQ, Carnivore and Bomas grounds.

what was remarkable or noteworthy?

shareholders aplenty KQ always draws in shareholders, maybe its because they are rather generous with gifts a.k.a SWAG (more on that later); but the meeting hall is full of the whole rainbow of Kenyan shareholders from business peoples, to student types (perhaps sent as proxies), but mainly older people who perhaps bought shares as far back as the IPO in 1997.

KQ courtesy shames Safaricom a few weeks ago Safaricom held a no frills AGM that did away with many of the niceties that shareholders are used to. KQ, showed they this was no a costly affair to gold; they had shuttle buses from town to ferry shareholders to and from the meeting and also gave out lunch boxes to all shareholders. The AGM did not have the usual red t-shirt that shareholders are used to, but coming on the back of Safaricom, many were satisfied.

in the meeting – CEO Titus Naikuni talked about the tough year the airline had from the credit crunch, which affected travel budgets and the price of fuel, which escalated during the year.
Fuel hedging: FD Alex Mbugua tried to explain the subject of fuel hedging, something he said even many accountants don’t understand, but which had left the company with a 5.6 billion loss. The company was able to manage an operating profit of 4 billion ($52 million) before hedging kicked in, even though the price of fuel had gone up to Kshs. 24.5 billion representing 35% of their total costs.
– For the last 5 years they have engaged in fuel hedging, this worked in their favour till 2008 – when with oil looking to zoom past $200 they locked in some contracts, only for the price to nose dice to $40 . Overall in the five years the gains remain a positive Kshs. 516 million.
In response to shareholder questions he also said
– KQ board is reviewing hedging policy, and this is through the committee of the board
– some hedging parties have been reluctant to enter into contracts with KQ of late, and insist on some cash cover
– while they could not comment on recent prices they have hedged, some to 2011, he mentioned the numbers have swung in their way as at August and they may have a write back in profits this year when they brief investors in October 2009.

Shareholder questions (with answers)
– how will they control costs? Careful choice of routes, try and expand those that work, drop those that don’t. African routes account for almost 1/2 their revenue now.
– Why did employees strike? There were conflicting unions representing employees, and during labour talks, the employees went on an illegal strike as they demanded untenable wage increments. Management was able to come to an agreement with the help of COTU and is looking to learn from mistakes it may have made to avoid this again
– Why is company’s secretary (CS) not an employee? Company did a cost benefit analysis and decided to outsource the function. The CS is still Fiona Fox and she assured shareholders that she responds to all letters written to her; most of which relate to registrar matters
– Where are reports of KQ accidents in Ivory Coast and Cameroon? CEO said investigator reports are still being done by these countries authorities, and they don’t have the former, while the latter has not been released KQ so can’t comment on it. On the Cameroon crash, KQ and insurers had made settlement with 90 of the 105 passengers, but some relatives have chosen to sue the airline or the aircraft manufacturer (i.e. Boeing)
– Why did annual report come out just 3 weeks to AGM? Management said they would try and improve and not just comply with the legal minimum for listed companies
– Why not use Precision Air aircraft (a Tanzanian airline in which KQ owns 49%) to fly to Kisumu since they have no more turbo-props for short runway? The repairs at Kisumu are short term did not warrant fleet change, and will resume flying there with their Embraer 170’s when repairs are done
– Do they plan to fly to the USA? KQ has never said they would fly to US; they have good partnerships and networks (KLM) through which they get feeds from US already, and JKIA will have to make some modifications before they can fly to US.

source: airliners.net

– What will be done about Boeing 787 which they have ordered but us yet to fly? KQ are talking to Airbus and Boeing about getting some replacement aircraft (won’t be brand new) but decision will be made in a few months
– One shareholder asked why managers /directors interest are divergent from KQ i.e. directors own few shares, while executive directors compensation is significant part of employee compensation: The Chairman said buying KQ shares was a personal decision of directors and he himself bought his shares at the time of IPO when he was not even a director of KQ. The CEO said management have not had any salary increments despite what union said during the strike.

Minor #FAIL’s: – The company registrars who had dozens of computers to register shareholder before the meeting, but whose computers were not connected. Anyone could have walked in. They also ran out of ballot papers
– The gymnasium had no water (though understandable at this time of water rationing). It was also not suited to the meeting format; the directors sat so far as to be indistinguishable except on TV screens while poor microphones/acoustics of hall meant some questions/comments were not audible
– Shareholder elections; this year, there was only one independent candidate on the ballot I guess they have realized of the futility of this exercise – and the results out today show all the board nominated director were unanimously re-elected
– CDSC (the share people): had a tent outside to register any of the 78,000 shareholders of the company; but they didn’t just ask if you had immobilized your shares, they practically demanded you pass by their tent and register to receive statements by e-mail or SMS (do away with the postal service)

Goodies: – Dividend of 1 shilling ($0.013) per share despite the loss. shareholder’s register closed day of meeting and this will be paid after October 23
– Lunch box by Sarova with drinks (yoghurt, soda & water), meats (drum stick, beef sandwich, boiled egg), fruits (banana, apple), and breads.

Kutwa Tuesday: Sam’s Kids


They may be called Barack, Michelle, Obama, or other creative names, but many of these new kids born and given fabulous American
baby Obama names were conceived as a result of Uncle Sam’s bungled election debacle in December 2007.

Opportunities

Airbus University Challenge: the Airbus
Fly Your Ideas challenge is open to university students around the world with ideas on the future of aviation and improving its environmental position. Prizes are €30,000 and deadline is 1st December 2008

Georgetown Fellowships Apply for the Georgetown University Law Center’s Global Health Law Fellowship Program. D/L is February 16 2009

Kenya Content Conference Tandaa 08 a local content conference sponsored by the Kenya ICT Board takes place on November 14 2008.

Kenya’s Top Women The Business Daily invites you to nominate Kenya’s Top 40 women under 40. send their names, contracts and reasons why they are worthy (in less than 500 words) to top40under40@nation.co.ke by 30th November

Government of Kenya jobs:
– Judiciary 25 resident magistrates. D/L 21/11
– Electoral commission of Kenya – 39 district election coordinators

Biz brief’s

Co-Op IPO: is 1/3 of the way to target with just 3 days to go optimistic about the Co-Op IPO. transaction advisers have now released cash flow and share price projections that should have been in the Co-Op Prospectus. what happens if they fall short – will D&B pay C-op for the shortfall? Is there a last minute investor who will get preferential terms to bridge the gap? The prospectus states that in the event that this minimum amount is not attained, approval may be sought from the Authority to proceed with the listing of the existing shares and any Offer Shares that are subscribed under the Offer.

I got an SMS (as did other Co-op customers) inviting me to take part, but the application desks/tents still look rather forlorn

Equity – HF: November 4 was not just Obama day, but also the date when the Housing Finance and Equity Bank deals should have been completed

Foreign Investors Tough times for the former Rift Valley Railways and Tiomin who continue to flounder: Tiomin’s latest statement notes. …. the Government of Kenya has not completed the remaining bureaucratic steps required for the transaction to close…..Tiomin’s management shares our investors’ extreme frustration at this unreasonable delay….. Tiomin has acted in good faith and we are very disappointed….. If the closing continues to be delayed, we will consider terminating the MOU on the grounds of unreasonable delay….. Tiomin will issue another press release when further material information is available. Pity they have no local defenders

Geothermal prospects : two companies are scoping in Eburu (gilgil) and Menengai for geothermal energy

Brew turf Coca Cola launch minute maid juices in Kenya (what happens to 5 alive) as EABL launch Alvaro in Uganda

Sat-TV: DSTV will launch pre-paid scratch cards, following in the footsteps of rival GTV who are reaping from the ongoing English premier league

Insurance by M-Pesa: Madison Insurance now accepting insurance installment payments by M-Pesa following Old Mutual, which enabled investment, plan payments

Radio Standard Group prematurely possible radio investment worth Kshs 250 million as KISS FM parent Radio Africa rolls out their 4th radio station – XFM (rock music)