Monday 31 October 2016

SOUTH AFRICA: 13 000 Tourists Barred From Entering South Africa, How Much Was Lost?

More than 13 000 tourists have been barred from entering South Africa because of the controversial regulation about having to travel with unabridged birth certificates for minors.

And 800 other passengers who flew into the country earlier this month missed their connecting flights because of lengthy delays at the immigration desks at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg while officers were processing biometric details.

The figures were provided by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and presented at a Portfolio Committee on Tourism meeting in Parliament on Friday.

Now, James Vos, the DA spokesperson for tourism, who said yesterday that details about the number of barred tourists came from the airlines, plans to raise the issue in Parliament this week.

“I knew that we would lose tourists as a result of the unabridged birth certificate requirement, but I was horrified that 13 246 tourists were denied visiting South Africa from July 2015 to July,” he said.

The requirement, which aims to stop child trafficking, calls for single parents travelling with minor children to carry their full unabridged birth certificates, and in the event there is only one parent, he/she must also travel with an affidavit from the other parent giving permission for the children to travel to South Africa. If the missing parent has died, the mother/father must travel with the death certificate.

International airlines have been stopping families without the full birth certificates from boarding planes as they know they have to have them in South Africa.

Vos issued a statement at the weekend, saying that according to TBCSA, a tourist spends on average R13 000 a day, thus “our country has lost potential revenue of R7.51-billion.”

“This is absolutely tourism terminating, and the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, was warned 18 months ago that this would happen.”

Proposed new immigration amendments say that immigration officers “may” ask for proof that the adult travelling with a child is a parent, but as tourism observers point out, this still means that adult passengers will still have to travel with the relevant documents.

Vos believes that an e-visa should be introduced, enabling passengers to provide documentation in advance, saying this would be safer and faster.

He plans to call on Parliament to scrap the need for an unabridged birth certificates and to consider the e-visa option.

The TBCSA meanwhile said it distanced itself from “all talk of legal action to force government to scrap the requirement” for the unabridged birth certificates.

TBCSA’s overall objective was to come up with lasting solutions that would provide certainty and “restore trade confidence in destination South Africa”, the organisation’s chief executive, Mmatsatsi Ramawela, said.

Vos also pointed out that TBCSA had revealed at the portfolio committee that because immigration officers were processing biometric details of incoming passengers, visitors had been standing in line at the immigration area at peak times for between 90 minutes to four hours.

SOUTH AFRICA: SA Tourism Set For High Season

Early indications are that tourism in South Africa is set for a bumper high season, with overseas tourist arrival numbers up 15.4 percent in the first half the year, according to SA Tourism.

Numbers on the domestic tourism side are also looking better than last year, even though the proportion of South Africans travelling for leisure still remains stubbornly low. At Cape Point, a top destination in the Western Cape, numbers are up 35 percent between May and August compared to the same period last year.

The impending surge in demand for tourism puts pressure on everyone in the industry to reach for new levels of service excellence. Tourism as an industry that spans both the public and private sectors rises or falls based on the quality of the experiences we provide.

These experiences will play a huge part in determining whether we can carry this momentum into future periods. The large numbers of travellers who will partake in what we have to offer this high season will share their stories with others, who might be persuaded to visit South Africa if they expect a positive experience.

Organisations in the tourism sector operate as interlinked chains of experiences. These chains are only as strong as the weakest link. When a traveller is dissatisfied by just one link, they might in future choose to forego the entire chain. This is particularly true for overseas travellers. Just one negative incident can put an overseas traveller, and those they share the story with, off future visits to the entire country.

So, where are we as an industry in terms of service quality?

In 2015, 82 percent of tourists reported no negative experiences, according to the Q1 2016 SA Tourism Index. The worrying aspect is that this is about 10 percentage points lower than 2013 and 2014, suggesting that more people left our shores and businesses last year dissatisfied with their experience.

We cannot afford the same in 2016, so we must look to improve.

There are already concerns about the long queues reported at immigration at OR Tambo, which could potentially have a negative effect on the traveller experience. So while it is important that government put in place the necessary security measures like the new biometric capturing systems at our borders, we need to make sure that we have enough adequately strained staff to work on the new systems. These systems should also be fully operational to ensure overseas tourists first taste of the country is seamless and positive – a must-do as we a long-haul destination.

This applies to the private sector as well, where perhaps we could do more to modernise our systems, innovate with our products, and invest in staff to improve the traveller experience than we have so far. There is simply no getting around investing in staff training in particular for us as tourism businesses.

The link between the calibre of people working in services-industry businesses, and the quality of the experiences customers have in these businesses is well documented.

There are pockets of service excellence in the tourism industry. But, as I’ve said, all it takes is one bad experience for a traveller to be lost to all organisations in the value chain. This is why it is not enough to focus solely on our own businesses. We have to look up and down the tourists’ journey to determine what we can do to improve service quality in the organisations that feed customers to our businesses and those that accept travellers once they move on.

We also need to focus more on getting systematic feedback from travellers. This feedback will give us much-needed specific information on which areas of the traveller’s journey to improve and how, and allow us to build for the next season.

We’re likely to find that all it takes to give visitors a good experience is friendly, welcoming staff members who have a positive attitude and see themselves as ambassadors for their business, city and country.

SOUTH AFRICA: Deal With Immigration Delays Or Tourists Shun South Africa

Act now to clarify entry requirements and to address delays at Immigration at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) or risk seriously harming the country's burgeoning tourism trade and the economy, says Erik Venter, CEO of Comair.

Recent weeks have seen thousands of visitors waiting for up to four hours to be processed, which has meant that hundreds have missed their connecting flights, despite landing at ORTIA in good time to board them. Venter says this is especially concerning as South Africa's tourism sector enters its busiest time of the year.

Venter says: “The delays at ORTIA Immigration are due to the introduction of biometric identification at Immigration, as well as staffing changes which have led to too few officials from the Department of Home Affairs manning the counters.

“We're participating in the task team that's working to address the situation and in ongoing contact with all stakeholders, but the airline industry and the travel and hospitality sector need the Department of Home Affairs to treat this as urgent to make significant progress on the matter in the next few weeks.

“Tourism to South Africa is set to grow by nearly 15 percent year-on-year in 2016, according to the Statistics South Africa, but making it difficult for visitors to travel to this country will reduce or potentially even cancel out those gains.”

South Africa is a popular destination, especially for visitors from the Northern Hemisphere - now entering winter - as well as the Far East and the rest of the African continent. This country has many attractions, underpinned by the favourable Rand exchange-rate, but these travellers are by no means short of choice, he adds.

Venter says it's also worrying that there's also widespread confusion among travellers and the travel industry over documentation requirements for visitors, to the detriment of the tourism sector, which has the potential to be a powerful driver of socioeconomic development in South Africa.

“A vibrant tourism sector has multiple benefits for our country: it supports economic growth in an environment where traditionally strong sectors like mining and manufacturing have faltered. Secondly, tourism is labour-intensive, so it creates jobs and enables skills transfer and transformation.

“Thirdly, tourism brings our country much-needed foreign exchange, helping to drive our balance of payments as effectively as a strong export sector would. That's why, for example, confusion over the required documentation for immigration needs to be clarified.”

Venter explains that, following the initial difficulties with unabridged birth certificates, it was announced that the requirements would be changed. This has led some stakeholders to assume that unabridged birth certificates are no longer required, but, he says, “To our knowledge those requirements remain in place.

“Obviously any state needs border controls, but visitors to and within South Africa deserve the best possible customer experience our country can offer. Comair is assisting customers who miss their connections by rebooking them on later flights or providing accommodation where necessary. But the sector simply cannot allow visitors to be inconvenienced by being denied boarding their flights, or needing to be re-accommodated, or being denied entry despite being assured that they had the right documentation.”

Venter suggests that the rigorous controls at South Africa's international airports indicate no evidence of child-trafficking into or of the country by air. “Child-trafficking is a scourge that must be quashed, but doing so requires focusing on our porous land borders, rather than airports.”

For the record, says Venter, the Department of Home Affairs has not changed its requirements for entry, despite having undertaken to review them. “As from 1 October 2014, all persons under the age of 18 years of age, arriving, transiting and/or departing from SA are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate indicating the biological parents of the minor. In the case where only one parent is travelling with the child/ren, a consent from the other parent in the form of an affidavit, is required.

“Alternatively, a court order granting full parental rights and responsibilities to the person travelling with the minor or a death certificate of the other biological parent must be produced. Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents. These new regulations have been implemented to combat child trafficking.”

NAMIBIA: Tourism Will Save Lions

Visit Namibia. Here, sandstone-coloured mountains abut canyons and dunes and desert plains. For as far as the eye can see, everything is painted in rust and amber and clay.

The aptly-named Skeleton Coast is hardly conducive to spotting the so-called Big Five safari animals; the elephants and rhinos that live here don't look quite like the ones in South Africa or Tanzania. Wildlife here have adapted to deal with scarce desert resources, developing unique features that set them apart from their ilk.

But seeing a desert-adapted lion in Namibia is like seeing a Siberian tiger in China or a snow leopard in the Himalayas. It’s a rare feat that justifies the journey. Unlike conventional lions, their thick coats can withstand dramatic temperature swings, and they can survive without drinking water at all - they get all the hydration they need from their prey. According to several on-the-ground experts, only 150 are left in Namibia; based on estimates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, that number was as high as 795 just 10 years ago. With such limited resources in the desert for humans and animals alike, both communities have encroached on each others' territories, creating conflicts that didn't exist before.

Little global awareness exists for these resilient creatures. So in honour of World Lion Day recently, the Smithsonian Channel aired a new documentary about five remaining lion cubs who were though to hold the key for future generations.

To ensure their survival, the so-called “five musketeers” were collared and monitored by Philip Stander, a conservationist who works in collaboration with Wilderness Safaris. He has been known to study the cubs’ every movement from a healthy distance; when they approach village livestock, he’s gone so far as to blast “annoying” music from his 4x4 to drive the lions away from harm. He’s also created educational initiatives to help farmers avoid human-wildlife conflict.

But Stander’s heroic efforts have fallen short. Two weeks ago, one of the lions preyed on a villager’s cattle and was shot to death; last week, three more were found poisoned nearby. In the span of just a few days, the five musketeers narrowed to just one.

Almost immediately, the last survivor, Tomakas, was translocated to the Palmwag Concession, near Wilderness Safaris’ Hoanib Camp. His protection - and that of the remaining desert lions - has become one of the direst conservation concerns anywhere.

If Tomakas is a symbol of hope for his species, his new home is a beacon for community-led conservation. Here, locals benefit directly from tourism; Wilderness Safaris leases its land from, and shares revenue with, three nearby villages, making them directly invested in conservation. Each visitor that arrives increases the value of the wildlife they’ve come to see. Where responsible travel exists, lion mortalities seem to decrease - the lions, it turns out, can bring more value to locals than even their cows can.

In other words: Tourism is probably the last chance for the desert-adapted lion. There are also desert-adapted elephants and rhino to consider. And with pioneering five-star camps opening up in some of the remotest corners of Namibia, it’s possible to help save much of it without compromising on comfort.

Where to stay: Hoanib Camp, mentioned above, is by far the best property in Namibia, and it just happens to be where you have the best chances at seeing Tomakas. You can plan a whole itinerary with Wilderness, which has five properties in Namibia, offering access to the salt pans of Etosha, the Skeleton Coast, and the red-dune-filled Sossovlei. You can also book stays at design-forward properties by AndBeyond or Namibia Exclusive, which offer comparable service and locations should availability be thin elsewhere. (Expect to pay roughly $2 000 per night at the top-tier safari lodges.)

If you’re flying in through Windhoek, spend a night at the lovely Olive Hotel - by far the city’s best stay. (Until it opened in 2012, hotel standards were not high.) Each of the seven suites was designed individually, with furnishings inspired by different regions of Namibia. There's no spa, but the rooms have deep soaking tubs - a perfect foil to dusty days in the bush.

What to see: Combine your stay with a few nights in Sossusvlei, the photogenic region on the southern tip of the Namib Desert, where you can travel by hot air balloon over dunes that feel as tall as skyscrapers. Then visit Damaraland, in the north, where desert-adapted rhinos run wild. You'll get bonus points if you make it to the Kunene River, where you can get a less arid outlook on Namibia, or cross over into Botswana for incredible wildlife sightings in the plentiful Okavango Delta.

Who to call: You can plan a bespoke trip with Abercrombie & Kent or Absolute Travel. (Trips can vary wildly in cost; you can spend $300 a day or $3 000 a day, depending on where you stay and how you'd like to get around, so offer up your budget and dates and have it planned accordingly.) Or get in touch with Chris Liebenberg, a travel adviser who specialises in planning trips to Namibia.

Where to donate: Chris Roche, chief marketing officer of Wilderness Safaris, is at the front lines of this cause. He recommends reaching out to the Desert Lion Trust and Desert Lion Conservation Foundation if you'd like to make a difference without leaving home.

NAMIBIA: Developing Rural Tourism

Rural tourism ventures in Namibia have welcomed the government's strategy geared towards transforming the tourism industry.

Set in a far-flung village in northern Namibia, Helena Shitemba, who has been weaving baskets out of palm tree leaves from home since 2013, said how she is hoping to benefit from the nation's tourism development plan.

Like fellow women in the northern Oshikoto region, the prime target buyers for her woven baskets are tourists and locals seeking to buy traditional products, gifts and souvenirs unique to Namibia.

Apart from direct sales, she uses various platforms to sell her products. “In addition to selling to some shops, I also participate in exhibitions and various trade fairs to promote my products,” she said. Although she has established a good chain of clients, a boost to the tourism-oriented business ventures championed by the government could help reform her business into a lucrative trade.

“My hope is that the government gives a lending hand to rural enterprises, especially those that rely on tourists for income generation,” she said.

Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism launched a national strategy on tourism, which aims to transform Namibia into a competitive tourism destination regionally and globally.

According to Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment and Tourism, the strategy will turn the local tourism sector into a world class industry over the next 10 years.

This, according to the minister, will be achieved through support programmes for emerging entrepreneurs in the sector, economic empowerment of enterprises and their partners, support to communal conservancies and development of rural tourism.

The minister said that if the current efforts of developing tourism products in a sustainable manner are strengthened, tourism will be a key catalyst for growth and national development across all sectors.

“Key strategic interventions include building top class facilities and land has already been acquired for the construction of such facilities,” according to Shifeta.

In the meantime, minister Shifeta also indicated that the ministry has crafted a National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Investment Promotion Strategy, focusing on opportunities in the tourism industry to be implemented by the Ministry of Trade, Industrialisation and SME Development.

Meanwhile, Namibia Tourism Board chief executive officer Digu Naobeb also welcomed the strategy, saying that it is timely. “The time is now for the regional council to make concerted efforts in supporting local tourism, through marketing and creating awareness about services and ventures in their regions to lucratively market their regions as potential destinations,” said Naobeb. Namibia's tourism sector is the third largest contributor to the country's economy. Like many traders in rural areas, Shitemba hopes that the efforts will be inclusive and address their needs.

“I hope my trade is one of the many components of rural tourism that will be positively impacted by the implementations of this strategy, as assistance from the government can go a long way,” said Shitemba.

Mass Tourism And The Bad Side Of It

The picture isn’t pretty. It shows a group of 16 Chinese tourists on a beach in Sabah posing for a cheerful photo with bits of broken corals and starfishes taken from the sea. One is holding a sign that reads “You should be here,” presumably as an invitation to other tourists.

The picture, which has been uploaded to social media, has enraged Malaysian nature lovers who accuse the foreign tourists of despoiling Sabah’s marine environment by wantonly taking bits and pieces of it. “Sea creatures should be respected. As ‘visitors’ in their habitat, we should not simply touch anything under the water, let alone take it out to pose with for pictures,” said one irate Malaysian. “Such behaviour would stress the starfish and even the corals, which might cause them to die.”

Another, who works as a diver in Sabah, concurred. “We are not supposed to touch corals as our hands are contaminated with bacteria, which can kill them, as they are very sensitive,” he noted. “We are supposed to protect them, and such behaviour could damage the ecosystem.”

Such behavior can indeed damage fragile ecosystems, like those at already stressed corals. Unfortunately, however, such behavior is all too common among Malaysians as well so we can hardly just blame Chinese tourists for such callous disregard of Nature. Locals in Sabah, for instance, are themselves notorious for befouling their state’s natural environments by wantonly littering on beaches, forest trails and pretty much everywhere else. Several educational campaigns against littering have been launched locally, but so far to little avail.

Nor is the practice limited to the Bornean state. Pahang’s famous mossy forest, in the Cameron Highlands, had to be closed to visitors for six months recently because many visitors kept on littering and trampling all over delicate plants underfoot while they strayed from designated paths. Many of those transgressors have been Malaysians.

Responsible tourism is vital if we are to preserve the country’s unique natural heritage. We can all lead by example when it comes to that. The natural wonders of Malaysia are the collective heritage not only of locals but of the entire world as well. There is no excuse for wantonly destroying parts of it for photo-ops or any other reason. Last year alone, Malaysia welcomed 25.7 million tourists. Mass tourism brings much-needed revenue to the county, but we must ensure that tourism does not come at the expense to the nation’s unique ecosystems.

KENYA: Swiss International Hotels To Open Lenana Hotel In Nairobi, November

Nairobi's already varied hotel scene will grow again next month when the 'Swiss International Lenana' will open its doors with some 133 rooms and suites. Located along Ralph Bunche Road will the new kid on the block overlook downtown Nairobi.

The management agreement for the new property was only signed a few weeks ago between Swiss International Hotels & Resorts and Nairobi based China Zhong Tian Investment Ltd. This is the second Swiss International manage property in Kenya after the Swiss International Mount Kenya.

Mr. Xiaohu Wei, Managing Director of the owning company China Zhong Tian Investment Limited, after signing the management deal, said: 'After a careful search for the right hospitality partner, we were taken by the very strong commitment of Swiss International.

We have plans to expand with additional hotels in East Africa and we wanted to be sure our partner would be committed and reliable. With Swiss International, we see a long-term partnership.

Nairobi is an exciting city and we are pleased to be able to formally introduce the Swiss International Lenana Hotel in the city. Collaborating with Swiss International worked the best for us because of the brand’s active participation and experience in the African market.

Furthermore, Swiss International rightly balances the local African flavour with the international quality standards'.

Mr. Henri W.R. Kennedie, Chairman and CEO of Swiss International responded: 'As we expand our footprint in Africa, we are exceptionally thrilled to announce the opening of Swiss International Lenana in Nairobi - Kenya. The cosmopolitan charm of Nairobi city contributes to a vibrant cultural life and extends to the diversity of the place which grants for a perfect choice for the brand. Guided by our Swiss Values, we remain committed to enchanting the lives of our partners and guests'.

Asia-Pacific Airlines Traffic Improves

Asia-Pacific airlines carried 23.5 million passengers on international scheduled services in September, up 7% year-over-year (YOY), according the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

International passenger demand grew 7.6% YOY to 87.4 billion RPKs, “faster than the 6.7% YOY expansion in available seat capacity,” AAPA said, but an 8.4% drop from August. Capacity on international routes reached 112.2 billion ASKs in September. Continued growth in both long haul and regional markets spurred demand in the region, AAPA said.

The passenger load factor for the region in September was 77.9%, up 0.6 point YOY.

Asian airlines’ September international air cargo traffic increased 5.3% YOY to 5.6 billion FTKs, a 3.7% rise in FTKs from August.

“Air cargo volumes … reflect the modest upswing in demand in recent months, bolstered by higher shipments of electronics designated for product launches,” AAPA DG Andrew Herdman said.

Year-to-date (YTD), the number of international passengers in the Asia-Pacific region has risen 6.5% YOY to 219.8 million passengers. Passenger demand for the first nine months of 2016 has grown 7% YOY to 798.9 billion RPKs; capacity YTD is up 6.9% YOY to 1billion ASKs. The international passenger load factor for the region YTD is 78.8%, up 0.1 point YOY.

“While air passenger numbers continue to demonstrate resilience, Asian carriers face challenges in the form of intense competition and cost pressures,” Herdman said, citing rising crude oil prices. “[And] the lack of impetus for a revival in global trade activity may present some headwinds to sustained growth in air cargo markets.”

AAPA’s member airlines include Air Astana; All Nippon Airways; Asiana Airlines; Bangkok Airways; Cathay Pacific Airways; China Airlines; Dragonair; EVA Airways; Garuda Indonesia; Japan Airlines; Korean Air; Malaysia Airlines; Philippine Airlines; Royal Brunei Airlines; Singapore Airlines; and Thai Airways International.

The Leopard

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five "big cats" in the genus Panthera. It is a member of the Felidae family with a wide range in regions of sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia to Siberia.

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five “big cats” in the genus Panthera. It is a member of the Felidae family with a wide range in regions of sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia to Siberia.

Compared to other members of Felidae, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but is smaller and more lightly built. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard’s rosettes are smaller and more densely packed, and do not usually have central spots as the jaguars do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers.

The leopard’s success in the wild is due to its well camouflaged fur, its opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet and strength to move heavy carcass into trees, its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest, steppe to arid and montane areas and to run at speeds up to 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph).

It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are declining in large parts of their range. They are threatened by habitat loss and pest control. Their habitats are fragmented and they are illegally hunted so that their pelts may be sold in wildlife trade for medicinal practices and decoration.

Facts about leopards

• Leopards are astoundingly strong. They are pound for pound the strongest of the big cats. They are able to climb trees, even when carrying heavy prey, and often choose to rest on tree branches during the day. One reason why leopards sometimes take their prey up in the trees is to ensure lions or hyenas can’t steal them.
• Leopards are renowned for their agility. They run up to 58km/h and can leap 6m horizontally and 3m vertically. They are also very strong swimmers.
• The leopard is the most elusive and secretive of the large felids. They are extremely difficult to trace and locate in the wild.
• Leopards are predominantly solitary animals that have large territories. While male territories are larger than females and tend to overlap, individuals usually only tolerate intrusion into ranges for mating. They mark their ranges with urine and leave claw marks on trees to warn others to stay away.
• Like cats kept as companions, leopards will growl when angry and purr when content. They have various vocalisations such as a rasping cough which they perform to announce their presence to other leopards.
• Leopards tend to have two or three cubs per gestation. Mothers refrain from wandering their territories after giving birth until their young are capable to come with them. Cubs suckle for around 3 months and are kept hidden for about the first 8 weeks to protect them from predators.
• Leopards tend to have distinctive dark spots called rosettes, which create beautiful patterns against their otherwise light fur. Black leopards however have dark fur which makes it difficult to see the spots. They appear almost solid black and are often called black panthers.

FedEx Plane Catches Fire at Hollywood International Airport

A FedEx plane caught fire Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Broward Sheriff's Office Department of Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said firefighters were called to the airport shortly before 6 p.m. after smoke was seen coming from the plane.

According to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen, the landing gear on the DC-10 aircraft collapsed, causing a fire as the plane was rolling on Runway 10 Left.

"I think the pilot did a pretty good job of keeping it close to the runway, but of course you can see the ball of fire and with all that fuel, that was a pretty big explosion," said Stephen Lloyd, former safety director for the FAA.

Bergen said the plane had just arrived from Memphis, Tennessee.

She said both pilots escaped from the plane.

A ground stop was in effect at the airport until Fire Rescue cleared the scene.

The plane had 40,000 pounds of fuel on it when it was coming in to land. The north runway was damaged, but the extent of the damage was not known.

The airport was re-opened at 7 p.m. Friday, but only the south runway is operating. Authorities said the north runway will remain closed as Broward County Aviation Department workers assess the damage to the runway. A timetable on when it may reopen was not given.

A dozen or so flights were diverted to area airports. The airport is operating, but passengers there can expect some delays.

A National Transportation Safety Board team is investigating the cause of the incident.

EGYPT: Westin Hotels & Resorts Debuts In Cairo,

Westin Hotels and Resorts (, part of Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) (, today announced the opening of Egypt’s best kept secret, The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes ( Owned by New Cairo for Real Estate Investment Company, the resort and spa is located in the prestigious, residential community of Katameya Dunes, anchored by a 27-hole championship golf course designed by world-renowned Nick Faldo and Brian Curley. With Westin’s signature wellness initiatives offered for global travelers and local residents alike, the hotel is poised to set a new standard for well-being in Cairo.

"The global demand for wellness continues to propel Westin’s growth momentum around the world, including our debut in new markets like Doha and Dubai and our expanded presence in destinations like Spain, Germany and now Egypt,” said Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts. “As the second Westin hotel to open in Egypt this year, we are thrilled to introduce the brand in Cairo and inspire a new level of well-being for our guests’ before, during and after their stay.”

“We are extremely proud to extend Westin’s global reach into Cairo,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International “The serene setting of this resort, food and beverage offerings as well as the amenities will bring to life the brand’s commitment to guests’ well-being through a local lens.”

With 135 guestrooms and suites, the thoughtfully-designed resort and spa feels residential and intimate, yet open and airy: designed with a biophilic-focus, suggesting that a connection to nature enhances well-being. Colors found in nature inspired the sophisticated palette coupled with natural materials and patterns that add textural layers to the interior design. Each of the well-appointed guestrooms offers views of the lush landscape that surround the grounds, from verdant fairways to meandering lagoons. Taking center stage, and illustrative of the resort’s overall design, an art installation of white doves suspended from the ceiling is located in the serene and inviting lobby.

“The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes provides a restorative retreat in the heart of the bustling city with genuine service, complemented with the Westin signature well-being offerings that fuel and energize our guests’ every move,” Eben Nel, General Manager, The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & spa Katameya Dunes added.

"Westin is the ideal brand for the Katameya Dunes development and we are excited to create a holistic wellbeing inspired lifestyle experience here in Cairo," said the Abou Taleb brothers, Khaled and Tarek, owners and developers of Katameya Dunes.

The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes features three dining options, including a pool bar, golf club bar and Paloma – an all-day Mediterranean restaurant that features an open-kitchen in its center as well as the brand’s signature Vertical Garden, which brings the benefits of nature into the hotel’s public space. The restaurant offers variety of culinary options alongside Westin’s nutrient-rich and delicious SuperFoodsRx™ and Fresh by the Juicery menus.

With the brand’s mission to be a partner in guests’ well-being while traveling, The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes features an idyllic, naturally-lit indoor plunge pool as well as a sprawling, heated outdoor pool located at the center of the resort. Additionally, the 3000 square meter Heavenly Spa by Westin boasts 10 therapy rooms and two couple suites as well as state-of-the-art facilities, including a high-tech steam room, “Rain Shower” and sauna – all designed to soothe the spirit, rejuvenate the body, and enrich the mind.

The hotel also offers the renowned RunWESTIN™ program with three- and five-mile jogging routes through the residential neighborhood, as well as a WestinWORKOUT® fitness studio with state-of-the-art exercise equipment from world-class brands in an open, airy and well-designed space.

Sunday 30 October 2016

NIGERIA: Fatima Buhari, President Buhari's Daughter Weds

Daura in Katsina will standstill on Friday when Nigeria’s crème d la crème will gather for the marriage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, would lead the government delegation to grace the ceremonies.

Former Nigerian leaders and members of the diplomatic corps will also converge in Daura. The town is already agog in readiness for the marriage of Fatima Buhari, the second daughter of President Buhari, on Friday in Daura.

She will be married to Mallam Gimba Kumo, the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.

According to the invite, the wedding would be conducted at the Maiaduwa resident of the president at the GRA by 2pm on 28th October, 2016. The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, would lead the government delegation to grace the ceremonies. The delegation is made up of ministers, governors and other political appointee.

The bridegroom was born on the 5th November 1959 in Gombe, Gombe State. Fatima is one of the president’s children from his first wife, Safinatu. President Buhari married late Safinatu in 1971.

USA: FedEx Plane Catches Fire After Landing Gear Collapses

A FedEx plane caught fire Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Broward Sheriff's Office Department of Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said firefighters were called to the airport shortly before 6 p.m. after smoke was seen coming from the plane.

According to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen, the landing gear on the DC-10 aircraft collapsed, causing a fire as the plane was rolling on Runway 10 Left.

"I think the pilot did a pretty good job of keeping it close to the runway, but of course you can see the ball of fire and with all that fuel, that was a pretty big explosion," said Stephen Lloyd, former safety director for the FAA.

Bergen said the plane had just arrived from Memphis, Tennessee.

She said both pilots escaped from the plane.

A ground stop was in effect at the airport until Fire Rescue cleared the scene.

The plane had 40,000 pounds of fuel on it when it was coming in to land. The north runway was damaged, but the extent of the damage was not known.

The airport was re-opened at 7 p.m. Friday, but only the south runway is operating. Authorities said the north runway will remain closed as Broward County Aviation Department workers assess the damage to the runway. A timetable on when it may reopen was not given.

A dozen or so flights were diverted to area airports. The airport is operating, but passengers there can expect some delays.

A National Transportation Safety Board team is investigating the cause of the incident.

TUNISIA: Tunisia Is Not Only A Beach Holiday Destination

I have visited Tunisia as a familiarization trip organized by the Tunisia Tourism Ministry with the support of Tunis Air. Tunisia is not only a beach holiday destination. It also offers a range of activities and sights for tourists interested in adventure as well as religious tourism. For foodies, Tunisia is a must visit destination.

Tunisia is the most important olive-growing country of the southern Mediterranean region. The country counts 11 million inhabitants and is one-third smaller than California but it is the second-largest producer of olive oil in the world.

I also would like to mention about Tunisian wines that you should try. Geographical location of the country makes it a rare location close to the equator for quality wine production. Along the northern coast and the Gulf of Tunis the climate is significantly influenced by the Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers creating a successful viticulture environment. Vine husbandry and wine making were first introduced to Tunisia by the Phoenicians during the Punic era.

The country located at North Africa is home to the ancient city of Carthage with thousands of years of history, the magnificent Sahara desert and beautiful Mediterranean beaches.

Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Spaniards, Turks, and the French have each left an imprint on the nation’s storied terrain with well-preserved sites and intriguing age-old ruins at every turn. Seven sites have UNESCO World Heritage Site status with 46 new additions slated for UNESCO inscription.

The country suffers from the terrorist attack in March 2015 that killed 20 tourists at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, capital of the country. Throughout the trip, I saw special police around the towns and centers as well as tourist polices mostly in the bazaars. I think there is no risk of traveling in Tunisia however every traveler visiting a foreign city should be careful and cautious during their journey. At the end we know that no one can guarantee that there will be no terrorism at any place in the world.

The psychological impact of terrorism is sufficient to disrupt tourism in most countries but the large countries are able to absorb the damage to the economy which too much ado. However, the smaller countries and developing countries who are completely dependent on tourism can reach the point of collapse because of the effect of terrorism to the tourism industry, as was evident after the 9/11 attacks.

Therefore, we - as travelers should not stop traveling because of one attack.

On our first day, we have visited Sousse and Monastir.

Monastir is a city on the central coast of Tunisia, in the Sahel area, 20 km south of Sousse and 162 km south of Tunis. With 100 thousand inhabitants, Monastir is a tourist resort and traditionally known as a fishing port. You can fly to Monastir – Habib Bourguiba International Airport which has flights from most Western European countries. It is run by Turkey’s TAV - Tepe Akfen Ventures Airport Holding.

The city features a well preserved Ribat that was used to scan the sea for hostile ships as a defence against the attacks of the Byzantine fleet. Several ulema came to stay in the Ribat of this peaceful city for contemplation. The Ribat was also one of the filming locations for both the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

Saturday 29 October 2016

NIGERIA: Knocking Before Openning A Mortuary Door

THE proprietor of Emeka Mortuary, Okunmi Community, located at the suburbs of Ikom, Central senatorial district, Cross River State, Mr. Kalu Ben Chima, popularly called Emeka Ambulance, has revealed the spiritual combats morticians, now and again, go through with occultists and members of some secret societies before their corpses were embalmed in his mortuary.

The Arochukwu-born mortician, whose mortuary is located along Ikom-Calabar highway, confessed to NDV that dead bodies, especially those of occultists and members of secret societies “do give us trouble while being embalmed because their bodies have been ‘fortified’ by the devil or some spiritual forces.”

“In such cases, we have to pet and persuade them by talking to them to allow the chemicals to penetrate their bodies, but if they remain stubborn, we have to employ our own spiritual force and of course, power pass power and we can then embalm them,” he disclosed. According to him, he learned the trade in Onitsha General Hospital, Anambra state, and had come to know that some dead bodies were so “powerful” such that they do not allow others to lie close to them and he was always careful when attending to such bodies.

His words: “Some powerful people do not allow other dead bodies to lie close to them, so in the night, they will remove other bodies near them and dump them far from where they are or they would go to an isolated place and lie there – all dead bodies are not the same, which is why we knock before we enter there.”

Someone traveled from Calabar to Okunmi to meet Mr. Chima following some strange reports about corpses in his mortuary established in 2010. A few months after it was established, there was an unsubstantiated story about a man, whose car broke down close to the mortuary late in the night and he decided to seek for place to spend the night, and knocked on the door of a house he saw light burning close by.

A security guard reportedly came out and gave him a mat to sleep in a section of the room, only for him to wake up the next morning and discovered that he slept among corpses and he instantly passed out.

Another case was that while conveying a corpse, the mortician occasionally walked behind the ambulance, while the corpse drives the van and the bizarre- that he sells body parts of dead people and so on. Chima confirmed some creepy stories and described others as hearsay.

On the man who allegedly slept in the mortuary with corpses, he said it was not true and he does not keep security guards in the mortuary. Corpses still have spiritual powers His words: “The corpses may be dead, but they still possess some spiritual powers to protect themselves.

We have about 100 corpses right now and 18 abandoned ones, but we keep the place open, both day and night, without any security and anybody, who attempts to do anything funny by going there to steal or do anything has himself to blame”. He, however, described as false claims that some people sell parts of dead people or do have sex with them. Sex with dead, a deadly affair

Chima asserted: “Do not think that because she is lying down there, she is finished and you can go and have sex with her. You will die also in a matter of hours or days and how can someone sell body parts of a corpse or water used in washing a corpse, such water is poisonous.

People die from different ailments such as HIV/AIDS, and water used in washing their bodies is poisonous and any person who uses it will either die or contact sickness.” On the report that he has rented crowd of women, who engage in bogus weeping when a person dies, he said the women were part of a specialized funeral services he offers.

Some people hire mourners before their death He explained: “Some people do not have people to cry for them when they die, so they will arrange with us while they are alive to get some women to cry during their burial and also, some people because they are polygamist would arrange with us to organize the casket, grave, and mortuary services so that when they die, there will be no struggle among family members on who to do what and so on.”

NIGERIA: Niger State Govt Plans To Transform Zungeru, Baro To Tourism Hot Spot

Niger State is home of Tourism. Zungeru town is where a Briton, Lord Luggard, as well as the first President of the country, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe settled, and married. It was the same town where the amalgamation of the country took place and the name Nigeria chosen. Besides, Lord Luggard, the first indigenous President of the country, Dr. Azikiwe, late Biafra leader, Odumegwu Ojukwu and some other prominent Nigerians were born there.

Also in Baro is the Lord Luggard Empire from where Luggard left for Zungeru and the relics of the radio station from where he was communicating with the Queen and other personalities is still on the Baro hill. But today, these tourist sites are in need of transformation to attract tourists now that the governments are thinking of diversifying the country’s economy.

In this interview with Wole Mosadomi, Niger State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, said the state has come up with plans to transform the tourist sites in Zungeru and Baro into international standard and also use the two sites especially as a unifying factor for people of the country.

ON plans to transform tourism in the stateThe state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has given my Ministry a matching order because in the past sixteen years, the tourist sites had been totally neglected despite the fact that we have very rich tourist sites in the state and if they are well developed, they will definitely boost the state internally Generated Revenue (IGR), so we are seriously working on the Zungeru Amalgamation centre.

As you know, Zungeru is where Lord Luggard settled, discussed between the North and the South and where the name Nigerian came about was in Zungeru. It is just like a forgotten capital. There are many sites there including where the white officers and Black officers had as their Mess. The Lord Lugard swimming pool which is the first swimming pool in Nigeria is in Zungeru, The centre where the Amalgamation took place, the West African Frontier Force and even the cemetery where the white dead were laid is still in Zungeru.

So Zungeru is a place that when developed will boost the state Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR.) On how to achieve the task The government has taken bold steps to go into partnership with private individuals and companies to boost the sector because tourism is capital intensive and so the state wants to explore the private sectors that will partner with the state and we will soon advertise that of the Zungeru for interested partners to come in.

We have sent an official to the National museum in Lagos to see if they could give us the real pictures the way they were. Because of the neglect of the buildings for so many years, most of those buildings are falling, but we want to get them back the way they were and our official has gone to the National Museum to get us the pictures and we are following the process laid down to get the pictures, get the design and build them back the way they were. Similarly, we want to showcase the thirty six states of the Federation there because we are planning that each of the state across the country should come and build their cultural design to showcase the centre of Amalgamation to further cement the unity in the country.

We also want to have a big conference hall and develop Lord Luggard international Library as steps have been taken to go into partnership with the British Embassy in Abuja so that all Researchers will have the opportunity of going to the library to carry on with their researches from all parts of the world in Zungeru. “I must tell you that if you go to Zungeru today, you will really feel very sad with the total neglect by the previous administrations but with the interest the present state administration has shown to Tourism, by the time we start, the town will come back to limelight.

Zungeru should not be forgotten. One thing interesting about Zungeru is that Lord Luggard got married there so it is a Centre that can be used to bring unity, bring in newly wedded couples to go to the proposed Centre and have their wedding Reception there and it will serve as keeping the spirit of love alive and make the relationship glow between old and new couples. On immortalizing Azikiwe, Ojukwu and others in Zungeru You know the first indigenous prime minister of the country, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, late Biafran leader, Odumegwu Ojukwu among others were also born in Zungeru.

If we have to unify Nigeria as one, we must surely remember Zik, Ojukwu and other military fallen heroes in the cemetery, because their names are there and we will not only leave their names on the tomb but we will find each of these chalets we want states to come and build and name after them because that is the only way you will remember that these people fought for the oneness and unity of this country.

On reviving Zungeru, the forgotten capital of the country Reviving the relics in Zungeru and renaming them after prominent people late and alive may not be enough if the town its self is not redesigned and rapidly developed since it is the gate way to these monuments. The town which served as the first seat of Nigeria is presently a shadow of itself with no water, no single access road and instead of developing, the town is even deteriorating with speed with settlers relocating to other cities. One of the primary things that made Zungeru very popular was because it was the first capital of the country.

Equally the rail line and the present backwardness of the town, prompted the state government to make a case to the federal government on the need to also focus its attention on the road network. Railway project The Abuja-Kaduna railway project was given adequate attention and commissioned recently, attention should also be given to Niger state by linking Minna from Abuja and from Minna to Zungeru and because Niger state is a gateway to the North and the South and by the time the Railway becomes very functional, the activities in Zungeru will be revived.

On the plans for Baro tourist site The same problem Zungeru is having is also what the Baro Port is having. Baro and Zungeru have some similarities and one of the most visible similarities is total neglect because Baro is a Railway Terminus but if you remember, Late Musa Yar’adua awarded the contract for the dredging of River Niger and building of Baro port and good enough, the Port is almost completed and I know President Muhammadu Buhari has a plan of visiting Baro to see things for himself and also see how his administration can revive the Rail line.

If the rail is revived, goods and services, agricultural produce and many things will take place there and it is hinterland transportation and goods will come in from all parts of the country. If you visit Baro today all the land surrounding River Niger has been bought by land speculators for future development. So, we are going to partner with the federal government to get rail from Minna to Abuja and from Baro to Abuja and by the time this is done, the state will be open up and create business activities along that route and the people will now be busy doing one business or the other.

Besides this, there is a fantastic tourist site in Baro which is Called Lord Luggard Empire hill. It was from Baro that Luggard Left for Zungeru so the first Radio where he communicated with the Queen is still in Baro; his Barracks are still in Baro and the cemetery of the West African frontier forces, where some of them died are equally on top of that hill. So if you visit Baro and you have not climbed that Hill, then your journey to Baro is incomplete.

Emirates To Get Support Of Arik Air

Arik Air yesterday said it was ready to support Emirates Airline and would be able to assist with accommodating Emirates passengers from various Nigerian destinations , including Abuja.

This, the airline said was to re-affirm its partnership with Emirates Airline in view of their recent decision to suspend their Abuja service.

This revelation was made yesterday by Arik Air’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Mr. Suraj Sundaram . According to Sundaram, “Arik Air and Emirates have a long standing partnership through an interline agreement since 2011 which enables Emirates passengers to have access to the entire Arik Air network for connections to and from within Nigerian destinations and to other West African countries.

“This means Arik Air would be able to fly Emirates passengers from various Nigerian destinations (including Abuja) and other West African markets to Lagos for onward connection to the Emirates service from Lagos to Dubai.”

He said that “Arik Air’s interline agreement with Emirates Airline has increased the travel choices for customers from Nigeria and West Africa to travel to various global destinations offered by the Emirates network.

Such partnership also allows Emirates passengers to tap into Arik Air’s strong network that currently serves 18 destinations in Nigeria and 10 West and Central African destinations,” he said.

Alternative Ways To Trace Your Lost Luggage

Anyone who flies on a regular basis is likely to have a luggage horror story, whether it's a crucial missed connection, a mistaken suitcase, or a bag left on the tarmac as the plane leaves the gate.

If this has happened to you, it might surprise you to learn that the airline industry feels your pain. Reuniting a traveler with a mishandled bag costs about $70 on average, according to Delta, and the industry as a whole lost $2.3 billion to mishandled bags in 2015.

But now carriers are making a major push to keep better tabs on their customers' baggage. Delta recently spent $50 million on an RFID-based tracking system, which is more reliable than traditional barcodes. And the rest of the industry won't be far behind: The International Air Transport Association has mandated that all airlines adopt end-to-end baggage tracking by 2018.
Goodbye Bar Codes

Today, most airlines track luggage by printing a bar code, sticking it to the bag, and using laser scanners to send it to its destination. These systems are largely automated, which means they're prone to the occasional failure, says Bill Lentsch, Delta's senior vice president of airport customer service and airline operations. From the quality and position of the lasers to the quality of the bag-tag printout, a lot can go wrong as the bag winds through miles of conveyor belts.

"We only get about a 90% read rate on a good day with our current technology of reading the bar codes," Lentsch tells Fast Company. Bags that fail to scan get pulled from the belt for manual handling, which is how your luggage ends up missing its flight or traveling to the wrong city.

Delta's new baggage systems rely on radio frequency identification, or RFID. At the ticket counter, Delta prints out a tag with an embedded microchip and antenna, which the airline's tracking system picks up through radio waves. Instead of requiring a line of sight, RFID can detect bags by proximity.

"RFID will give us a 99.9% read rate so that bags move very efficiently through the baggage handling system," Lentsch says.

RFID also helps out on the tarmac. On each belt loader, scanners detect whether employees are loading bags in the proper order so that the ones with connecting flights come off first. (Lentsch says Delta can retrain those employees if they're not doing the job right.) And when bags come off the plane, employees can scan them quickly to single out the ones that have tight connections.

"Under a normal process, you'd have to wait for the majority of those bags to come out before we can cut the driver loose and send him over to your departing plane," Lentsch says.

The technology has a passenger-facing benefit as well: An update this week to Delta's mobile app lets passengers locate their RFID-equipped bags on a map without having to look up their baggage claim number. Soon users will also get push notifications telling them when their bags have arrived at each leg of the flight. And in those cases where mishandling still occurs, Delta is working on a way to file a claim from the sky.

Delta is now printing RFID tags at all of its airports, and in total it plans to install RFID scanners in 84 airports, which collectively handle 85% to 90% of the airline's baggage. The other airports, Lentsch says, handle so few bags that manual code scanning is accurate enough. He estimates that the $50 million investment will have paid for itself within about two years.
Return Of RFID

Delta has an early jump in embracing RFID, but it's not alone. The IATA has been following Delta's progress, and in a study with SITA—an airline IT group—it estimated that industrywide adoption could reduce mishandling rates by 25% over the next six years, saving more than $3 billion.

"RFID is the easiest way to track bags," says Andrew Price, IATA's head of airport operations. "It's the most cost-effective way for a large number of airlines, not just Delta."

RFID is not a new technology, and IATA has investigated its potential a couple of times over the past two decades. But those earlier tests only focused on sorting bags into their appropriate destinations, not complete tracking of the bags' whereabouts.

"We were solving about 20% of the baggage mishandling problem," Price says. "Our board of governors said, 'Look, go and solve the other 80% that can be solved without investing in this big technology, and then come back.'"

Since 2007, IATA has pushed to reduce mishandling through other means, such as visiting airports to identify systemic problems. Those programs cut down on mishandling by more than 50%, Price says. Today, 99.4% of bags never have a problem.

Now, the trade group is going a step further with a mandate for end-to-end tracking—that is, following a bag from the ticket counter to the airplane, through connecting flights, and back to baggage claim. While airlines can use whatever technology they want under the mandate, IATA is clearly throwing weight behind RFID with its latest business study.

"The reason we've put this out now is because it's been 10 years since we did the last one, and there's renewed interest in RFID due to the Delta implementation," Price says.

It probably helps that the cost of RFID tagging has dropped considerably in recent years. Delta's Bill Lentsch says each RFID bag tag costs about 10¢, which is about twice the cost of a standard bar code printout, but about half the price of RFID five to 10 years ago.

What's the next step for getting more airlines on board? Price says IATA will release an implementation guide as soon as November, and next year it'll start offering guidelines for different types of airports.

That said, there's no penalty if airlines decide to ignore the rules. "We're going to draw it to their attention, and other airlines will draw it to their attention as well, but we're an industry body," Price says. "We're not a regulator."

Beyond The Printed Bag Tag

Over the long term, printing out tags with RFID chips on them may not be the only way to improve baggage tracking.

One other possibility involves a permanent bag tag, which would connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth so passengers could transmit their flight information. Customers could then drop off bags without having to get a tag at the check-in counter.

But so far, there's no industry standard on how these tags should work, or what technology they should use. Qantas, for instance, currently offers bag tags that rely entirely on RFID, while British Airways and Alaska Airlines have experimented with e-paper screens that can refresh with new bar codes.

IATA's Price says the group is working on a standard for ways that data could be shared with the airlines, but he notes that it's early days for those efforts.

"We've talked about it in the industry a little bit, but it's way off," he says. "The idea is that we will make a platform that allows that information to be gathered."

Whatever standard emerges, Lentsch expects Delta's system to be compliant—in part because Delta is helping to develop it. The work that Delta has done on RFID tracking so far, he says, should support whatever standard emerges later.

"We're just starting to lay some of the foundation, but another possible expansion here is into the world of permanent bag tags, where you can purchase a permanent bag tag, put it on your bag, and whenever you fly on Delta we'll be able to read that tag," he says.

In other words, RFID will likely play an even bigger role in bag tracking, assuming more airlines get on board. And if they don't, that's probably good news for Delta.

"While we're already an industry leader in mishandled bag ratio," he says, "this is going to put a wider gap between us and our competitors."

USA: American Airlines Flight 383 At O’Hare International Airport On Fire

Flames and heavy black smoke poured from the side of an American Airlines jet that aborted takeoff and caught fire on the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport on Friday, forcing 170 crew and passengers to evacuate and resulting in eight injuries.

Pilots on American Airlines flight 383 bound for Miami reported an engine-related mechanical issue, according to airline spokeswoman Leslie Scott. She said seven passengers and a flight attendant with minor injuries were taken to a hospital.

Passenger Sarah Ahmed said the plane had been speeding down the runway when she heard an explosion and saw flames and black smoke. She said everyone on the right side of the aircraft jumped from their seats and moved to the left side.

“People are yelling, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ Everyone’s screaming and jumping on top of each other to open the door,” Ahmed said. “Within that time, I think it was seven seconds, there was now smoke in the plane and the fire is right up against the windows, and it’s melting the windows.”

Footage from the scene showed the Boeing 767, which appeared to be damaged on its rear and along its right side, sitting on the runway with flames underneath and shooting from one side along with plumes of smoke. The right wing was drooping toward the ground.

Passengers came down emergency slides, hurrying across grass next to the runway as emergency vehicles surrounded the plane.

Buses were sent to pick up the passengers and bring them back to the terminal, the airline said. The passengers were to be placed on another flight to Miami on Friday evening.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the plane made an emergency stop around 2.35pm after a problem during takeoff. An earlier FAA statement said the plane had blown a tire.

The National Transportation Safety Board was conducting an investigation into the incident, with investigators expected to arrive on the scene on Friday evening, spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The aircraft was built in 2003 and is among American’s youngest planes of that model. According to data from FlightGlobal, an aviation news and industry data company, at the start of 2016 the plane had flown more than 47,000 hours and made more than 7,500 cycles. Each takeoff and landing is one cycle.

American Airlines is flying 767 aircraft that have more than 100,000 hours and 18,000 cycles.

Video and images of the incident were posted on social media, including footage that appears to show panic inside the cabin.

In similar scenes a FedEx plane caught fire on Friday evening while landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, authorities said.

The plane was arriving from Memphis shortly before 6pm when the fire broke out, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles.

The pilots told authorities they believe the left landing gear collapsed on the runway. Both pilots escaped without injury.

The fire, which was contained to the left wing and fuel tank, was put out within minutes of the landing, Jachles said. An inspection determined that the cargo appeared to be undamaged.

Air traffic controllers in Fort Lauderdale issued a ground stop after the flight, and no flights were allowed to leave for a time. The airport’s south runway reopened about 7pm, but the north runway remained closed for investigation.

FedEx issued a statement that the company was cooperating with authorities.
The National Transportation Safety Board is opening an investigation into a FedEx plane that caught fire after its landing gear collapsed.

Christopher O’Neill, a spokesman for the board, said a team of five investigators are being sent to Fort Lauderdale.

TripAdvisor To Stop Selling Tickets To Abusive Animal Attractions

If you want to ride on captive elephants at elephant camps, or take pictures with captive tigers at tiger farms, or monkey around with captive orangutans at “wildlife parks” (though we most certainly hope you don’t want to do any such thing), then you can from now on forget about TripAdvisor.

The powerful online travel website, which has its own booking service, has decided not to sell tickets to animal attractions that feature any form of abuse or exploitation of wild and endangered species. Better yet: in partnership with leading animal protection organizations, TripAdvisor plans to create an educational portal for responsible wildlife tourism to inform users about animal welfare issues.

“We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travelers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions,” TripAdvisor’s chief executive and co-founder, Stephen Kaufer, said in a statement.

Animal rights activists have hailed the company’s decision. “By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or playthings, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment,” stressed a representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

For years animal welfare groups have been campaigning long and hard against the callous exploitation of captive animals for entertainment purposes in countries like Malaysia. Recently, for instance, the plight of a captive 36-year-old elephant at the Langkawi Elephant Adventures amusement park created an uproar, thanks to an expose by a leading local animal welfare group, Friends of the Orangutans (FOTO).

Sadly, however, the exploitation of animals for the benefits of tourists remains a lucrative business. Most of these tourists are likely unaware that the animals that they pet, ride or pose for photos with frequently need to endure prolonged maltreatment, neglect and outright abuse. Hopefully, once they do learn that, they will decide to give such places a wide berth, thereby helping drive them out of business.

Individually and collectively, we can all make a difference by refusing to patronize venues where cruelty to animals is commonplace (be they zoos, “wildlife parks,” or elephant camps). Corporations, too, can make a difference by refusing to promote them. That is why TripAdvisor’s decision is a welcome step in the right direction. Let us hope that many other travel sites, travel agencies, and tour operators will follow suit and likewise turn their backs on such places.

Fasjet Bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 On All its Flights

Following the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s ban of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on all flights by airlines flying into or within the country had Fastjet - the low-cost pan-African airline - has updated its operational policy banning the mobile device from all fastjet flights as a safety precaution.

Effective immediately, passengers who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 may not transport the device on their person, in carry‐on baggage, or in checked baggage, or as cargo on any fastjet flight.

'The fire hazard with both the original and replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is deemed as a significant risk – one that simply can’t be ignored when the safety of our passengers is our primary concern' said Nico Bezuidenhout, Fastjet’s CEO.
Fastjet has updated its policy to a total ban as a result of recent developments regarding the risks and the ban and recommendations made by the US Department of Transport and FAA. Other non-US airlines are also introducing bans.

Any passengers who attempt to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage may be subject to prosecution for endangering a flight. Fastjet apologises for any inconvenience and advises passengers to not arrive at any airport wanting to board a flight with the device on hand or packed in baggage.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) received a communication from Samsung to advise that it has announced a global stop‐sale and stop‐use policy for all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices. Samsung is recalling the original and the replacement devices.

KENYA: Arrival Figures Available

Charter arrivals in Mombasa, though up compared to last year, continues to be a matter of concern to the Kenya coast tourism fraternity inspite of a 19.1 percent rise, have overall arrivals into the country since January risen by 17.2 percent with the largest number of visitors entering through Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The figures below show arrivals in Kenya:

· Total international arrivals for January to August 2016 by air and sea closed at 581,808 compared to 496,579 in 2015, illustrating an increase of 17.2%.

· JKIA arrivals grew by 16.5% to record 522,709 compared to 448,549 in 2015

· Moi International Airport Mombasa (MIAM), received 57,219 visitors, compared to 48,031 in 2015, a 19.1% growth

· 1,880 cruise ship arrivals were recorded until August 2016

Fuller data are available and are shown in the graphic below to allow further comparison of arrival data going back to 2011:

Friday 28 October 2016

NIGERIA: Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre.

In 1964, the United Nations Flight Unit established the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, known then as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre.

About the same time, UN also established similar training centres in Dakar, Senegal, in Nairobi, Kenya and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Today the training centre established in Addis Ababa has metamorphosed to a great aviation school that caters for students all over Africa and beyond. During this time there were almost 20 years hiatus NCAT was left in the doldrums or it was literally abandoned before the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo resuscitated it.

Reports had it that the college was being funded by the UN, but one Nigerian military head of state had told UN that instead of funding the college directly the money should be giving to the Nigerian government. That was how the UN withdrew from funding the school.

This writer learnt from a veteran Ethiopian aviator that most Nigerian Air Force officers of old trained along with Ethiopians at NCAT or the school in Addis Ababa. But today, the school in Ethiopia has grown to become a big institution dubbed as one of the best in Africa, while NCAT still offers only Private Pilot License (PPL).

It is the same with the defunct Nigeria Airways and Ethiopia Airlines. Ethiopia Airlines was established on December 21, 1945, while Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL) was established a year later as West Africa Airways Corporation, and in 1958 it became known as NAL.

Today NAL is defunct, while Ethiopia Airlines is the biggest and most profitable airline in Africa. With its code-share and Star Alliance partners it connects to the whole world.

Travel expert, Ikechi Uko said the success of Ethiopia aviation is "a combination of many things: History, processes adopted, succession plan, continuity and discipline. Then you also look at the people involved in running the airline, you will see a lot of commitment and passion for excellence.

Today Ethiopia Airlines operates to four destinations in Nigeria. Uko said that it is the airline that understands the Nigerian market, its idiosyncrasies and has high regard for Nigerian travellers, "because it is an African airline that understands us as Africans and shares our aspirations."

On Monday, the airline marked its 70 years of existence in Lagos with journalists and disclosed that it started operating to Nigeria seven days after Nigeria's independence, which means it has been operating into the country for 56 years both during the good and the bad times.

The airline reaffirmed its commitment to the Nigerian project and as an African airline, it shares the aspirations and developmental goals of Nigeria, where it operates to four destinations.

Ethiopian decided to reassert this commitment at the time other international carriers are contemplating leaving Nigeria due to the current economic recession and the attendant forex difficulties, while others have cut back their operations in the country.

The Country Area Manager Nigeria, Mr. Solomon Begashaw remarked: "As a veteran Pan-African carrier Ethiopia Airline has always been our source of pride to serve our beloved continent, Africa, both in good and bad times. Our presence in Nigeria dates back to the 1960, same time the Federal Republic of Nigeria got independence from foreign colonisation. Ethiopian has been part of Nigeria's historic growth and always considers itself as a partner in the history and growth of Nigeria as a country; hence, the management of Ethiopian Airlines wishes to clarify its stance of pursuing its operation to Nigeria and keep Nigerian travellers connected to five continents around the globe.

"As an indigenous Pan-African carrier, Ethiopian airlines will remain with the Nigerian public in good and bad times like it has always done in the past 56 years. Ethiopian has been in the highs and lows of Nigeria; all through the crisis periods of Nigeria and also during the last Economic crisis, providing the link between Nigeria and the outside world there by showing its African solidarity."

Currently, Ethiopian serves the Nigerian traveler from four Airports of Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Kano. To reinforce its support to Nigeria; Ethiopian is offering to hire Nigeria pilots for its ever growing fleet of Boeings: B777, B787, B737 and Dash 8 Q-400 Aircraft, train more Nigerians in its aviation academy, which is the largest in Africa.

Besides, Begashaw said Ethiopian Airlines has always served Nigeria with the best aircraft in its fleet like the A350 Airbus, B787 Dreamliner and the B777 wide body aircraft.

"In the spirit of African brotherhood, Ethiopian Airlines does not wish to be in Nigeria only when the going is good, rather, it is willing to make sacrifices along with Nigerians in this trying time, knowing that Nigerians are resilient and resourceful people and will soon come out of the temporary recession. As the Airline celebrates 70 years of existence, it has extended free tickets to Nigerians who liked Ethiopian Airlines Nigeria Facebook page," Begashaw said.

The Nigeria aviation sector has so much to learn from Ethiopia aviation. While Nigeria has so much in abundance, it lacks the discipline and commitment to harness its possibilities to grow its aviation sector to the enviable heights, which the Ethiopia Airline has attained.

Former Capt. Lisa McCombs Sues American Airlines For Refusing Her Fly Her Dog

Former Capt. Lisa McCombs was heading home from a quick day trip to Kansas last year when she ran into road block -- American Airlines staff wouldn't let her fly home with her service dog, even though she'd had no problem getting him there that morning.

Now the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran is suing the airline for exacerbating her post-traumatic stress during a two-day ordeal in which members of their Manhattan, Kansas, crew refused to honor her tickets and publicly humiliated her multiple times, according to a lawsuit filed this week in her home state of Mississippi.

The 35-page brief lays out in detail the prior-enlisted engineer officer's experiences from Oct. 25 to Oct. 27 last year when trying to return home to Gulfport, Mississippi.

McCombs served from 2005 to 2009, including a 2006 deployment to Iraq and 2008 deployment to Afghanistan, according to her service records.

Reached for comment via Facebook, McCombs deferred to her attorney.

"We try not to try our cases in the media," Christopher Van Cleave said, declining to give details on McCombs' trip to Kansas or her medical care since the incident.

According to the legal brief, airline personnel refused to let McCombs through security with her dog for two days in a row despite adding Jake, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, to her reservations and bringing several forms of valid documentation listed on American Airlines' website.

With boarding passes in hand on Oct. 25, a Sunday evening, McCombs alleged, an agent approached her and asked, "Ummm, are you trying to fly with that?" while gesturing to the dog.

Over the next two days, airline staff canceled her original flight and a second flight she booked over the phone while standing in the airport, according to the lawsuit, demanding that she either buy a carrier and pay $125 to have Jake flown home in the cargo hold, or submit Jake's paperwork via fax and wait two days for approval.

After arguing with personnel in the airport and trying to explain her situation to American Airlines customer service over the phone, McCombs began to experience a panic attack and was eventually ordered to leave the airport altogether.

On Oct. 27 she booked a Delta flight out of Kansas City and rented a car to drive two hours to get there, just as American Airlines customer service came through with an offer of a third flight.

McCombs canceled her Delta tickets and went through a smooth check-in and security with the same airline crew she'd dealt with the previous two days, according to the brief.

She was further humiliated during her connection at the Dallas/Forth Worth airport, when an entourage greeted her on the jet bridge with a wheelchair, calling out for a "disabled veteran" and insisting on escorting her to her next flight.

McCombs, who according to the lawsuit suffers from VA-diagnosed PTSD and acquired Jake to help her cope with anxiety, is suing for emotional damages as well as subsequent medical care and therapy required to help her process the incident.

Van Cleave has not been in contact with American Airlines since the filing, he said.

"We appreciate and thank Ms. McCombs for her service to our country," American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said in a statement Thursday.

After McCombs made it back home, an American Airlines official reached out to her, according to the lawsuit.

He offered to reimburse her for her flights and hook her up with some first-class international tickets, she alleged, but Miller would not elaborate on their conversation or if there were any consequences for the airline staff involved.

"Jim Palmersheim, American’s senior manager of Military and Veterans Programs – a pilot and U.S. Army veteran – immediately reached out to Ms. McCombs and spoke to her for more than an hour to obtain additional information on what occurred at both Manhattan Regional Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport," he said.

Miller would not say whether the airline plans to fight the suit.

"We will not be able to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit, since this matter is pending litigation," he said.

AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes named Airline CEO of the Year

AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has been named Airline CEO of the Year at the 2016 CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence.

This is the third time Fernandes has won the accolade from influential aviation consultancy CAPA-Centre for Aviation.

He had received the accolades previously in 2004 and 2005.

The award was presented to him at a gala dinner held at Hotel Okura here last night.

"AirAsia has come a long way since I won the first ever CAPA Airline Executive of the Year award in 2004. And in those 12 years, AirAsia has both changed and stayed the same," Fernandes said.

He said that back in 2004, the low-cost model was still something new to Asia.

The now leading budget airlines had just embarked on its first two affiliates outside of Malaysia, in Thailand and Indonesia and had 17 planes and 1,400 staff.

Fernandes said at that people were just beginning to notice the airlines.

"Since then, we've grown into a truly Asean airline with operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India, and soon, Japan, more than 200 aircraft and 17,000 Allstars."

AirAsia, he said, is the only airline that flies to all 10 Asean nations and, with Fly-Thru, it connects the whole of Asia Pacific, from Japan, Korea and China to Australia and New Zealand to India and beyond, in just one stop.

"So that's what's changed," he said.

He adds that the airlines has stayed the same through the years in its unending commitment to quality and innovation and the dream that everyone can fly.

"This wonderful award is a testament to the fact that the dream is still very much alive, and we will continue to hold to this dream as we go into the next 12 years and beyond," he said.

CAPA said Fernandes was selected for the award for successfully steering AirAsia to increased profitability and an improved outlook this year following an "extremely challenging" 2015.

It noted the new capital raised from the issuance of new shares, expansion of operations in China, the upcoming relaunch of AirAsia Japan and the formation of an aircraft leasing business which is expected to be spun off, raising more capital and reducing group leverage.

CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Harbison said AirAsia is back at the front of the pack in the challenging Asian market and Fernandes has once again shown why he is one of the industry's leading executives.

"The original short-haul operations in Malaysia and Thailand are again among the most profitable airlines in Asia while Indonesia and Philippines are expected to be profitable again in H2 2016. AirAsia X is also back in the black following a restructuring, he said.

The CAPA Aviation Awards are regarded as the pre-eminent awards for strategic excellence in aviation.

Recipients are chosen by an independent international panel of judges to reward airlines and airports that are not only successful but also provide industry leadership in adjusting to a new environment.

Past winners of the Airline CEO of the Year award include Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce, Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan and Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the holding company for British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling.

Chinese Hainan Airlines Flies To “Palestinian Territories”

A passenger aboard a flight of Chinese Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Israel was shocked to notice that the airline was sending him to the “Palestinian Territories” instead of Israel..

According to the report, the passenger wrote on Facebook that he described during the flight that Israel was not featured on the in-flight navigation map and that instead, “Palestinian Territories” was listed.

“I wanted to see how the plane was progressing toward its destination and thus took a look at the in-flight navigation map. I was surprised when I saw that the plane’s destination on the screen was listed as the ‘Palestinian Territories’ and not Israel,” wrote the passenger.

The passenger attached a photograph of the screen, which displayed Syria, Cyprus and Lebanon but only Tel Aviv and Jerusalem without Israel’s name.

In response, Hainan Airlines said, “We thank you for contacting us and turning our attention to this regrettable technical mistake. The airline is working to fix the maps as soon as possible along with the external software supplier.

“We would like to mention that the word ‘Israel’ clearly appears on the maps in the zoomed-in view. We will continue to promote Israel as a tourist destination in China just as we have always done with a lot of pride,” added the airline’s statement.

Hainan Airlines started flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport half a year ago. The airline currently operates three Tel Aviv-Beijing flights per week which will soon be increased to four. The airline is also considering introducing other flights from Israel in the future.

The incident marks the third time in the last few months that an airline has said it is sending its passengers to “Palestine” while ignoring Israel.

In late August, several Israeli passengers refused to board an Air Serbia flight from Belgrade to Tel Aviv after it was announced the plane was headed to "Palestine", while an Air Serbia representative explained to the passengers that "the flight is to Tel Aviv, not to Israel.”

Air Serbia's CEO later expressed shock at the incident and called it completely unacceptable in a conversation with Israel's ambassador to Serbia, Alona Fisher-Kamm.

Last October, Israelis returning home from Madrid on an Iberia Airlines flight were shocked when the pilot announced that in a few minutes the plane would land in Tel Aviv, in "Palestine."

The startling announcement, delivered in Spanish, was followed by a similar in message in English, albeit without the mention of "Palestine" or of Israel.

The Spanish airline initially apologized for the incident, but later changed its tune and denied it ever occurred.


Cinnabon is a chain of American baked goods stores and kiosks, normally found in areas with high pedestrian traffic such as malls and airports. The company's signature item is a large cinnamon roll. As of July 2009, over 750 Cinnabon bakeries were operating in more than 30 countries. Its headquarters are in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

The company is owned by Focus Brands, an affiliate of private equity firm Roark Capital Group.The President & Chief Operating Officer is currently Kat Cole, who worked her way up from serving as a waitress at a fast casual chain to President & COO of Cinnabon before age 35.

The first Cinnabon opened on December 4, 1985, Federal Way, Washington at SeaTac Mall, now The Commons at Federal Way. Cinnabon was an offshoot of the Seattle Based Restaurants Unlimited restaurant chain Majority owned by Rich Komen with minority partner and CEO Ray Lindstrom at the helm. Mr. Komen and Mr. Lindstrom wanted to create the perfect cinnamon roll, eventually hiring Jerilyn Brusseau to finalize the iconic recipe.

The first bakery began by serving only its Cinnabon Classic cinnamon roll. Cinnabon's first franchise-operated store opened in August 1986 in Philadelphia. In 1991, the first Cinnabon store outside a mall was opened in Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Cinnabon stores today can also be found in military bases, universities, rapid transit stations, casinos, and amusement parks.

Cinnabon was bought by AFC Enterprises, Inc. in 1998 for $65 million.In 2004, AFC Enterprises, Inc., sold Cinnabon for $30.3 million to FOCUS Brands, Inc., which is owned by the Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Group.The headquarters moved to Greater Atlanta in 1999.

Cinnabon has many international franchise operations in these countries below:

- Canada (Cinnabon of Canada eventually broke the franchise agreement later operating under the Cinnzeo Brand Name.)
- Cyprus
- Egypt (City Stars Center, Cairo)
- Greece
- India
- Israel (Closed in August 2016)
- Libya (This restaurant is noted for being the first U.S franchise to open in after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.)
- Malta
- Mexico
- Pakistan (Karachi and Lahore)
- Philippines
- Poland
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Brunei
- Malaysia
- Japan
- Colombia
- Peru
- Russia
- Thailand