Monday 30 July 2018

HONG KONG: Personalised Plating On Cathay Pacific’s Business Class

Long-haul Business Class passengers can enjoy a new, more personal, dining experience that caters to sophisticated palates, offering more choice and enhanced presentation

Business Class travellers on Cathay Pacific’s long-haul flights will soon have the option of ordering from a new à la carte menu with a new hospitality upgrade to be rolled out starting from July 30.

Cabin crew will take individual orders from passengers.

Main courses will be individually plated on board by trained staff, ensuring better presentation and quality, as individual dish components can be heated separately.

The new option is the result of passenger surveys that the airlines has been conducting since 2017 to find out how to improve the in-flight experience.

Customers have said they want to see improved food quality, presentation, greater choice and more personalisation during their in-flight meals.

The new service will offer a range of Hong Kong Favourites such as Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, wok-fried seafood in lobster soup, beef brisket with flat rice noodle, and mango with pomelo and sago for dessert.

Trials are being run to determine the optimum amount of food to be loaded for each flight.

Technology is helping identify customer preference, says Bernard Mills, head of customer experience, F&B and hospitality, at Cathay Pacific.

Passengers will be offered three appetiser options and up to six main course choices on flights that are longer than 10 hours.

There is also the option of a new Express Meal, an alternative for customers who prefer to sleep during set flight meal service times.

In addition, passengers in need of sleep can fill in a new Breakfast Order Card to select their morning meal before nodding off.

The new service will be rolled out to all Business Class passengers on long-haul routes starting July 30 and is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

Tourism Observer

USA: 13 Killed After Tourist Boat Sinks In Table Rock Lake In Branson State Of Missouri

A tourist boat carrying 31 people sank in a lake in the U.S. state of Missouri Thursday night, killing at least 13 people, with four others missing, officials said.

A total of 14 people survived, including seven who were injured when the Ride the Ducks tourist boat sank in Table Rock Lake in Branson Thursday evening, local media quote Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace as saying.

Among the seven injured, four are adults and three are children.

Two adults were in critical condition and others were being treated for minor injuries, officials said.

Officials also confirmed children are among the dead, but they have not said how many victims were children.

Four others remain missing after the duck boat was buffeted by powerful winds, the Stone County Sheriff's Office said.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences early Friday, extending his deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved.

Several dive teams from different law enforcement agencies joined the rescue Thursday night and recovery efforts were paused late in the evening. On Friday morning the search diving operations resumed.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigators are expected to arrive on the scene.

Tourism Observer

NIGERIA: Nigeria Air, Is It A National Carrier Or National Airline And Will It Survive Where Others Have Failed?

Anytime Senator Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, spoke about setting up a national carrier, I always switched off. Even though I like his ideas and I still salute his single-mindedness in closing down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for a critical runway reconstruction last year.

I just could not see eye-to-eye with him on the matter of a national carrier. It was going to be a waste of time and resources, I argued. I had evidence.

For decades, the Nigerian government has satisfactorily shown that it cannot run any business professionally. There is no single commercial entity run by the government that does well. We always end up burning money.

The defunct national airline, Nigeria Airways, started off so well in 1958 but eventually crashed in 2003 as the Nigerian disease of mismanagement ate it up.

Its business class seats were reserved for government officials and their cronies, girlfriends and families most of whom flew free of charge.

That is the way government business is run in Nigeria. Nigeria Airways flew from turbulence to turbulence despite the economic opportunities in the aviation industry.

Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and South African Airways, owned by their respective governments, were doing fairly well but our own Nigeria Airways was descending both in service quality and profitability.

President Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in 1999 lamenting that Nigeria Airways had 32 aircraft when he left office as military ruler in 1979.

Twenty years later, only one aircraft was functional. He promised to revive the airline. I was in the team of journalists that flew to South Africa in 2000 for the signing of a lucrative code-sharing deal with South African Airways on the Johannesburg-Lagos-New York route.

We were told the deal would breathe a new life into Nigeria Airways. It was only on paper. While SAA is still going strong, our own national airline finally collapsed under heavy debts in 2003, unable to keep head above water despite subventions and subsidies.

The climax of the sad Nigeria Airways story, as narrated by a passenger, was in May 2002. A New York-Lagos flight was delayed for 24 hours because the airline couldn’t pay for fuel. Passengers had to contribute to fuel the aircraft. One passenger gave a loan of $5,000 to the airline.

It turned out to be the last flight. Another sad story is that of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), set up by government in 1959. It sank in 1995 under the weight of debts and mismanagement.

All its 21 vessels were sold off. With these stories at the back of my mind, I was not excited when the Buhari administration started talking about setting up a national carrier.

But I am having a rethink with the unveiling of the Nigeria Air brand on Wednesday. Sirika said the federal government will own only 5% as well as raise the start-up capital for operations to commence in December.

He said it is going to be a public private partnership (PPP) to be privately managed. Investors will own the remaining 95%. There is already an international drive to market the venture to partners and investors.

The proposed carrier is expected to be a major player in the aviation sector, serving domestic, regional and international routes. The business projection is that in five years, it will be carrying four million passengers and boasting of a fleet of 30 aircraft.

For starters, national carrier is not the same as national airline. A national carrier flies the country’s flag and gets preferential treatment in international operations while a national airline is owned by the government.

A national carrier, sometimes called flag carrier, does not have to be government-owned. There are different models. For instance, British Airways is the UK flag carrier but it is not owned by the British government. It’s the same for Lufthansa (Germany) and Japan Airlines.

But Ethiopian Airlines and EgyptAir are 100% state-owned. Kenya Airways was wholly state-owned until 1996. It is now public-private.

Actually, my interest in Nigeria Air is fuelled by many factors. One, government will not have a say in the management. With 5% stake, it will be a minority shareholder. If the airline runs well, therefore, Nigeria will be reaping dividends rather than burning subventions.

We will now have to pray that Nigeria Air will not be managed by the mindless and clueless Nigerian big men and buccaneers who have not the foggiest idea about how the airline business is run. There are too many failed examples in our aviation industry.

The success of Nigeria Air will depend on the quality of management. But, to start with, the government will not be involved. That sounds better.

Two, the benefit of solid start-up capital means we can be assured of good aircraft. When Arik launched operations in 2006, its selling point was the tear rubber or brand new aircraft. Despite all its troubles, Arik’s safety record is still intact.

That is a benefit of a well-invested capital and maintenance. Government should invest in businesses that require huge capital outlay in order to spark off investors’ interest.

When no investor was interested in building hotels in Abuja, federal government built Hilton and Sheraton, which it later privatised. Can you count the number of hotels in Abuja today?

Nigeria is not enjoying much benefit from its bilateral air service agreements (BASA). For instance, British Airways flies to Lagos and Abuja daily and Virgin Atlantic flies to Lagos also daily, but there is no Nigerian airline flying to the UK.

Not even one flight! You are not likely to find this anomaly in many countries with a huge market like ours. According to Sirika, Nigeria Air will fly 41 international routes, in addition to 81 domestic and 40 regional.

If anything, virtually every sector of the Nigerian economy should benefit from the business, not forgetting the little matter of job creation in a country direly trying to tackle unemployment.

Four, the fact that government is investing in a business does not mean it is doomed. A ready example is Nigeria LNG Limited, in which government owns 49% but which it does not run. It is one of the best NLGs in the world.

If it was run by government, it would have become another NNPC — which is just a sleazy centre for the distribution of political patronage. We have not only recovered our investment in NLNG, we have continued to enjoy the fruits of our seed capital.

Therefore, that government is investing in an idea does not necessarily doom it. What makes the difference is who manages it. The government must not have the power to play patronage politics with Nigeria Air.

Economists will say everything has an opportunity cost. I agree that the money government is going to invest in Nigeria Air can be used for other pressing needs in education, healthcare, water, roads, bridges, and so on.

However, the fact that we need roads and schools does not mean we don’t need to improve options for Nigerian travellers and incentivise competition in the aviation space. We can do many things simultaneously. One does not stop the other.

Given the expected multiplier effect, this looks like an investment worth making, all things being equal. It is more than national pride, it is sowing seed in an economic driver.

Virgin Nigeria was running fairly well until the Nigerian factor ruined it. Its successor, Air Nigeria, was a natural disaster. Arik was considerably successful until it was infected by the Nigerian disease of mismanagement.

Nigerian billionaires are always guaranteed government bail-out whenever they ruin their businesses. The moral hazard encourages bad behaviour.

If Nigeria Air ends up in the hands of these buccaneers, then its fall will be mightier than that of Nigeria Airways. Ironically, Nigeria Airways was profitable when it was managed by KLM. Nigerians took over in the 1980s and please help me complete the sentence.

Ex-workers of Nigeria Airways are still being owed. In September 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari approved N45 billion for the settlement of their severance benefits. The national assembly did not pass it. This issue has to be resolved before we can start a new carrier.

Investors are expected to inject between $150 million and $300million over a number of years. We need to know how much in total Nigeria will be committing to it and how the funds will be raised. We can use all the transparency at this stage. Already, the PDP has described it as a scam.

Finally, my understanding is that PPP has three stages — development, procurement and implementation. The idea has been developed. That is what we saw with the unveiling of the brand at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK last week where the biggest guys in the global industry usually gather.

The next phase is procurement. Where will Nigeria get the funds to pay for the aircraft? Will it a recoverable loan from the federal government? Will we source funds from Exim Bank, AfDB or commercial banks? We need to know.

Investors are expected to inject at least $150 million by 2019. Have investors started showing interest? We need answers, Senator Sirika.

Except there is a supernatural dimension to this issue, I still don’t know why the federal government will not release Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) from detention. The former national security adviser has been granted bail by the court countless times.

The attorney-general, Mallam Abubakar Malami, says Dasuki was responsible for the death of 100,000 people and will not be released on bail. Does that mean Dasuki is already serving a prison sentence?

Normally, it is a court of law that pronounces an accused guilty. The attorney-general would be better off arguing his case against bail in court. But he has now assumed the role of a judge.

While we await the final word on the controversial NYSC discharge certificate of Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance, I must confess that I have learnt a lot from this saga. For one, I never knew you have to serve even if you are 60, as long as you graduated before clocking 30.

I just assumed if you return to Nigeria after 30, you will be exempted. I also never knew that even if you never set a foot on Nigerian soil, as long as one of your parents is a Nigerian, you are automatically a Nigerian.

Meanwhile, now that a generation of Nigerians are schooling abroad, I hope their parents will remind them to come home and serve, even if they will still return to live abroad.

Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on Thursday ruled out government’s interference in the recruitment and operations of new national carrier, Nigeria Air.

Sirika gave the assurance at a lecture, held at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s 47th convocation in Kaduna.

He explained that the airline was unveiled in London for visibility but that investors in the company would decide the running of the airline.

Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on Thursday ruled out government’s interference in the recruitment and operations of new national carrier, Nigeria Air.

Sirika gave the assurance at a lecture, held at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s 47th convocation in Kaduna.

He explained that the airline was unveiled in London for visibility but that investors in the company would decide the running of the airline.

There will be no management control whatsoever. But I want to warn you that the people who are going to do recruitment ab initio will be a company that is world-class, he said.

Sirika said that Nigeria Air would be different from the grounded Nigeria airways.

The ownership is different. It is different because it is private sector-driven.

Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on Thursday ruled out government’s interference in the recruitment and operations of new national carrier, Nigeria Air.

Sirika gave the assurance at a lecture, held at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s 47th convocation in Kaduna.

He explained that the airline was unveiled in London for visibility but that investors in the company would decide the running of the airline.

There will be no management control whatsoever. But I want to warn you that the people who are going to do recruitment ab initio will be a company that is world-class, he said.

Sirika said that Nigeria Air would be different from the grounded Nigeria airways.

The ownership is different. It is different because it is private sector-driven.

Government will own minority share of less than five per cent.

Nigeria Airways died due to so many reasons, including governance issues and also that of finance.

Nigeria Airways was owned by the government of Nigeria and over time it lost track and lost funding and someone, therefore, decided to shut it down and it died, he added.

Tourism Observer

FRANCE: Air China Flight From Paris To Beijing Forced Back After Suspected Terrorist Threat

An Air China flight was turned around after receiving suspected terrorist information during an international trip that was later said be a false threat.

The flight was travelling from France to Beijing on Thursday when it was suddenly forced to turn back and land in Paris.

In a message posted across social media, the commercial airline said it received a suspected terrorist message after taking off.

Air China has received a suspected terrorist message, the statement read. Flight CA876 has returned to Paris safely, with the plane and its passengers all unharmed.

By Thursday afternoon, however, Chinese state media reported the issue was a false alarm.

The Air China flight reported an emergency after 8:00 a.m. EST on Thursday, Reports from international air transportation monitoring agencies about an emergency on the Air China trip were posted to Twitter early Thursday morning.

The flight’s trajectory showed the plane had not yet passed Brussels, Belgium before turning around to Paris.

Air China did not immediately respond to enquiries, but said in a statement to one of its social media profiles that it turned the flight around to ensure safety.

Tourism Observer

INDONESIA: 500 Plus Hikers Stuck On Mount Rinjani Lombok Due To 6.4-Magnitude Quake

Indonesia mounted a rescue operation Monday to reach more than 500 hikers and guides stranded by landslides on an active volcano on Lombok, a day after a powerful earthquake struck the holiday island.

Helicopters and search teams have been deployed to scour the slopes of Mount Rinjani, which is criss-crossed with hiking routes popular with tourists, while rescuers have made airdrops of food supplies to those stranded.

Tonnes of rock and mud were dislodged on the mountain in the 6.4-magnitude quake, which struck early Sunday and was followed by scores of aftershocks, leaving hikers with no easy way down to safety.

There are still 560 people trapped, said the head of Rinjani national park Sudiyono.

Those believed to be stranded include citizens from the United States, France, the Netherlands, Thailand and Germany, as well as many other countries, search and rescue officials said.

Hundreds of other hikers managed to get off the mountain on Sunday, according to officials.

At least 16 people were killed in the earthquake across affected areas of Lombok, while hundreds of buildings were destroyed including a health clinic.

The quake created panic on the holiday island and sent locals and tourists running outside their homes and hotels.

The rescue operation on Mount Rinjani is likely to run until at least Tuesday and a military helicopter has dropped supplies at several spots on the mountain.

For supplies, they can still survive for another one to two days, Agus Hendra Sanjaya, spokesman for Mataram’s search and rescue agency, said.

Rising some 3,726 metres (12,224 feet) above sea level, Rinjani is the second-tallest volcano in Indonesia and a favourite among sightseers keen to take in its expansive views.

Hiking trails on the mountain were closed following the quake due to fear of further landslides.

Thailand’s embassy in Jakarta said 239 of its citizens were stuck in the area surrounding the mountain.

Thai national Thanapon Worawutchainan, who was at the summit when the earthquake occurred, posted a video on Facebook showing people stumbling down the slopes in the aftermath.

He said the ground shook violently and people lay down until the tremors stopped.

It looked like the mountain in front of me was going to collapse, another stranded Thai, Funknathee Prapasawat, said on Facebook.

Some people were injured by rocks falling off the mountain.

The epicentre of the earthquake was 50km (30 miles) northeast of Lombok’s main city Mataram, the United States Geological Survey said, far from the main tourist spots on the south and west of the island.

The initial tremor was followed by two strong secondary quakes and more than 100 aftershocks.

The jolt was felt some 100km away on the bustling resort island of Bali, although there were no reports of damage there.

Some 160 people were injured in Lombok as a result of the quake, said Mohammad Rum, head of West Nusa Tenggara disaster agency.

A Malaysian was among the dead, with another six citizens injured, the foreign ministry in Kuala Lumpur said.

A total of 5,141 people are staying in temporary shelters and in need of clean water, Indonesian disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told MetroTV.

President Joko Widodo visited affected areas on Monday and promised financial support for those who have lost their homes.

We must be aware that our country is in the Ring of Fire, so people need to be prepared to face any disaster, Widodo said.

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide and a large portion of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Tourism Observer

IRELAND: Ryanair Cancels More Than 2,500 Flights Due To Air Traffic Control Staff Shortages In UK, Germany And Greece Then Strikes In France

Ryanair has warned jobs could be lost as it cuts the number of planes stationed in some of the countries where it faces strike action.

It made the threat as first-quarter profit slumped by a fifth amid rising oil prices and employment costs, including a 20% pay increase for pilots.

The Irish low-cost carrier said profit fell 20% to €319m (£284.8m) in the first three months of its financial year to 30 June, compared to a profit of €397m in the same period a year earlier.

Ryanair, which was forced to recognise unions in December for the first time in its 32-year history, is facing strikes in many of the countries it operates in over pay and conditions.

Over 300 flights have been cancelled from its daily schedule of 2,400 on Wednesday and Thursday.

While we continue to actively engage with pilot and cabin crew unions across Europe, we expect further strikes over the peak summer period as we are not prepared to concede to unreasonable demands that will compromise either our low fares or our highly efficient model, the company said.

Ryanair said if these unnecessary strikes continue to damage customer confidence and forward prices/yields in certain country markets then we will have to review our winter schedule, which may lead to fleet reductions at disrupted bases and job losses in markets where competitor employees are interfering in our negotiations with our people and their unions.

We cannot allow our customers flights to be unnecessarily disrupted by a tiny minority of pilots.

First quarter staff costs increased by 34% primarily due to pilot 20% pay increases, 9% more flight hours and a 3% general pay increase for non-flight staff, the airline said in a statement.

It has also been forced to cancel more than 2,500 flights due to air traffic control staff shortages in the UK, Germany and Greece and strikes in France, which added to its costs, the company said.

Ryanair said Fuel prices have risen substantially from $50pbl per barrel at this time last year to almost $80pbl in Q1. While we are 90% hedged at $58pbl our unhedged balance will see our full year fuel bill increase by at least €430m.

Ryanair's stock fell more than 5% in early trading as it warned average fares would lower than expected during the summer due to increased competition and strikes. They ended the day down nearly 7%.

Holidaymakers are facing a third day of travel misery at Stansted Airport after storms grounded flights earlier this week.

Thousands have been hit with flight cancellations and delays so far.

The disruption is set to continue, with frustrated passengers this morning complaining of long queues and cancellations on social media.

A spokeswoman for Ryanair said there is a very small number of delays and cancellations on Sunday as a knock-on effect from extreme weather and disruptions arising from air-traffic control staff shortages in the UK, France and Germany.

Thunderstorms across Europe forced the budget airline to cancel flights at the London travel hub on Friday night and into Saturday.

It came as thousands of holidaymakers suffered travel disruption over the extreme weather, with long delays for ferries and cross-Channel trains.

Temporary flight restrictions were put in place during the storms across Europe on Friday sparking delays at Stansted.

Luton Airport and Gatwick Airport on Saturday also warned of delays and cancellations due to thunderstorms in Europe, advising passengers to contact their airline for travel information.

Mr Calder said passengers travelling to and from Stansted with Ryanair have been the worst hit.

Ryanair cancelled about 50 flights on Saturday, and gradually the number of cancellations has been increasing on Sunday morning.

Pictures shared on Twitter showed long queues to check in for Ryanair flights at Stansted this morning.

One traveller claimed there were 200 people in a queue to rearrange cancelled bookings.

In a statement, Ryanair said - Our UK operation is running well today.

There is a very small number of delays and cancellations as a knock-on effect from the extreme weather disruptions on Friday and the disruptions arising from ATC staff shortages in the UK, France and Germany.

Brits heading for summer getaways by rail and ferry also faced major disruption on Friday and Saturday,.

People were left waiting for several hours to check in at the Eurotunnel at Folkestone amid extreme weather conditions.

The cross-Channel rail operator blamed recent severe weather conditions for the delays.

It said the service is running as scheduled with up to four departures an hour on Sunday.

Meanwhile, there was heavy traffic around the Port of Dover on Saturday as families headed for the Continent by ferry.

Passengers were told to expect long queues on the roads into the port, with a minimum two-hour wait to get through border checks.

P&O ferries advised its customers to take plenty of drinks, snacks and entertainment for the wait.

A spokesman for Stansted said the airport has been operational as normal today with no air traffic flow restrictions at the airport.

Tourism Observer

Sunday 22 July 2018

PHILIPPINES: Guimaras Island A Beacon For Bliss

Known for their sweet mangos, Guimaras is a province island in Western Visayas that is favorite tourist destination because of its many attractions.

Having many Islets surrounding the main island, it is no wonder why Guimaras has so many beautiful white sand beaches which captivates the hearts of many of its guests. Jordan is the capital of Guimaras

The Navalas Church built in 1880 to 1885 is the oldest existing Catholic Church in Guimaras Island. It is said that the church used to have a four feet tall bell but was taken and dumped into the sea near the area of Siete Pecados.

To date, the interior and other parts of the church are already modern but the old facade made of coral stones and stone fence remain untouched.

You might get curious about some buzz about Roca Encantada or Enchanted Rock. The place is the summer vacation house of the Lopez Clan. Built atop a rock but since some landscaping was made the appearance of the rock cannot be noticed anymore.

Constructed in 1910, despite its modern architectural design, the mansion was declared by the National Heritage Institute as a heritage house.

The place offers an amazing vista and the famed Islas de Siete Pecados which can be seen from the balcony.


Another added attraction on the Island of Guimaras is the 27 windmills constructed in San Lorenzo Guimaras.

Just like the windmills in Bangui, Ilocos, these windmills also attracts tourists visiting the island.

The windmills are sporadically constructed atop the hills of the place giving the tourists nice vistas.


The Holy Family Hills is a religious site which also attracts various tourists visiting Guimaras Island. Numerous life-size statues are dotting the place with the big statue of the Holy Family being the focal point as you enter the place.

LifeSize station of the cross statues are spread along the area which caused pilgrims to visit the place, especially during the Lenten season. The place has a Chapel and a Prayer room.


Located in Guimaras Circumferential Rd, Jordan, Guimaras, the National Mango Research and Development Center is specializing in Research Extension and Production of Mango. The place has 8.87 hectares of planted mango used for production and research.

Guests visiting the place can buy seedlings or grafted mango at PHP 50/pc.


Founded in 1972, the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras is the only Trappist monastery in the Philippines. Many visitors visit the place because they have a pasalubong center selling their own food products such as mango jam, polvoron, mango tarts and much more. The place is also available for retreats.


The Guisi lighthouse completed in 1896 is said to the be the 3rd oldest lighthouse in the country.

Made of metal, the Guisi lighthouse is already rusty and the new one is already installed adjacent to it. The place offers an amazing view of the sea, especially during sunset.


Taklong Island National Marine Reserve located in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. Covering a total area of 1,143.45 hectares (has.), with 46 islands and islets and 963.45 has. of marine waters which are home to various species of flora and fauna, including corals and seagrasses.

Tourists are usually brought by thebangkeros during the Island Hopping to the Floating Cottage found in the Area. The floating cottage duly operated by San Roque Coastal Environment Program Association (SARCEPA). While at the place you can enjoy swimming while enjoying the sceneries of the place.


Guimaras Island is known for its sweet mangos, because of this the festival of the Province known as Manggahan Festival held every month of May was created.

Of course, apart from mango this festival also shows the culture of the people of Guimaras. Street and Arena Dance Competition are just one of the highlights of the said festival.

Here’s the link to the Manggahan Festival Schedule. We are updating this regularly so don’t forget to bookmark this page.

The tourist packed island paradise of Boracay off the northern coast of Panay has been given half a year off to recover on the order of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to the south temptingly dangles mango shaped Guimaras, and a waterworld ripe with possibilities.

Natago Beach – Hiding Beach – lives up to its name with a sparseness of visitors, subtly delighting in ways reflective of intriguing Guimaras, which quietly produces some of the tastiest mangoes found in the central Philippines.

While never approaching the epic grandeur of Koh Phi Phi Leh’s Maya Bay, Natago’s tempting alcoves can still trigger recollections of the enchanting spot popularised by the film - The Beach - before the Thai idyll, like Boracay, recently temporarily closed to visitors, a victim of its own beauty.

For the time being, like one of its fat, juicy carabao mangoes, Guimaras hits the traveller’s sweet spot engaging vibes and precious few visitors.

Laid-back locals, convenient proximity to vibrant Iloilo City, a range of water sports and ample opportunities for solitude help make this emerald isle a perfect place to disappear for awhile.

While other local mangoes suffer from smallness and imperfections, the best Guimaras mangoes are second to none in the world. The matrix of rigging lashed to the ferries plying the short, exhilarating Iloilo-Jordan route show their readiness for the times of the year when mangoes aren’t in season.

This is when gusting winds and monsoon rains are busy nourishing the fruit’s goodness towards another triumphant harvest.

This central Philippines islands group is known as the Visayas, a name etymologically linked to the English word victory but more particularly to the Indian-inspired Sri Vijaya Empire.

Malay migrants from the culture based in what is now Malaysia, southern Thailand and western Indonesia settled here, bequeathing their name to the islands.

A bracing 15-minute ferry ride from Iloilo, the isle of Guimaras is most easily entered from the port of Jordan, the main jumping-off point to its multiple attractions.

Among these are an 18th-century lighthouse, countless beaches, unique rock formations, tours of the mango groves and sampling anything and everything made from Guimaras’ famous fruit, including biscuits, biscotti, drinks and chips, as well as shopping for souvenirs bearing its likeness.

Bouncy jeepney rides spiral out from Jordan to all parts of Guimaras. One road passes restaurants advertising mango-topped pizza on the way to Alubinod Beach, which looks like something waiting at the end of the world and is a popular spot to embark on island-hopping tours.

The summer monsoon wind, the habagat, blows strong, but not so strongly as to dismay the fun-loving residents who’ve endured Indian, Spanish, American and Japanese colonisation.

The skies over Guimaras lash out more juicily during summer and winter typhoons, darkened by storm clouds lending mood to the otherwise brightly coloured seascape, a dazzling array of aquamarine, turquoise and the like.

Flanked to the north and south by two island groups named after their biggest islands – Luzon and Mindanao – the Visayas, like much of the archipelago, are an outpost of raw natural beauty.

With towns named in Spanish superlatives, Buena Vista and Nueva Valencia with most residents adept at English thanks to the US occupation, Guimaras most deeply delights with its natural scenery.

It is blissfully far beyond the great sweep of influences of conquerors and travellers who left behind remnants of cultural flotsam.

Raymen Beach offers an ideal spot for bobbing in the wild but accommodating sea, as well as journeying off for an exciting island hop with any of the many tour operators.

Besides the mango sweetness of this idyll and of Natago Beach, made for quiet romantic moments also within reach are abandoned nunneries with epic sea views and countless under-appreciated attractions and surprises that only the locals know about.

Particularly deserving a look is Buho Ramirez Cave, well worth a few hours’ exploring by boat. Also known as Baras Cave, this darkened environment unveils vistas that are likely to stay with visitors for a lifetime.

As the boatman silently guides guests past fruit bats in their perches, the sunlight fades and then disappears, only to return at the end of the ride, which can be as short or as long as desired.

It’s a mysterious place that gradually transitions into a beautiful seascape of colours, now all the more radiant as you emerge from the gloom.

Getting to Guimaras is easy via the short flight from Manila, touching down in nearby Iloilo, a small city offering excellent seafood, bustling malls and opportunities for dancing and gambling. There are Spanish-era delights like Jaro Cathedral and colonial mansions.

The extraordinary Esplanade walkway lining both banks of the beautified Iloilo River is an amazing testament to the public’s will to restore areas previously pockmarked by industrial blight.

The colonisation of the Philippines has been likened to spending three centuries in a convent, followed by 50 years in Hollywood. Many Spanish-era sights in the region go under-appreciated and show signs of physical neglect.

Similarly, American-era mega-malls offer far too many cheap thrills. But the intrinsic beauty of less-discovered spots, well developed but not overdeveloped, like those that dot Guimaras reflect the timeless quality of the Philippines’ smaller islands, which seem ideally designed for capturing flavours previously undiscovered.


One of the best things to do when visiting Guimaras is to do Island Hopping. Island Hopping will enable any guests to beautiful Island and islets as well as various white beaches around the island.

Tourism Observer

CHINA: Quanzhou Among Ten Most Charming Cities In China,It Is China's Shoe City - 3,000 Shoe Factories Produce 500 Million Pairs A Year

Quanzhou, formerly known as Chinchew, is a prefecture-level city beside the Taiwan Strait in Fujian Province, China. Its is Fujian's largest metropolitan region, with an area of 11,245 square kilometers (4,342 sq mi) and, as of the 2010 census, a population of 8,128,530.

Its built up area is home to 6,107,475 inhabitants, encompassing the Licheng, Fengze, and Luojiang urban districts; Jinjiang, Nan'an, and Shishi cities; Hui'an County; and the Quanzhou District for Taiwanese Investment. Quanzhou was China's 12th-largest extended metropolitan area in 2010.

Quanzhou was China's major port for foreign traders, who knew it as Zaiton, during the 11th through 14th centuries. It was visited by both Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta; both travelers praised it as one of the most prosperous and glorious cities in the world.

It was the naval base from which the Mongol attacks on Japan and Java were primarily launched and a cosmopolitan center with Buddhist and Hindu temples, Islamic mosques, and Christian churches, including a Catholic cathedral and Franciscan monasteries.

A failed revolt prompted a massacre of the city's foreign communities in 1357. Economic dislocations—including piracy and an imperial overreaction to it during the Ming and Qing reduced its prosperity, with Japanese trade shifting to Ningbo and Zhapu and other foreign trade restricted to Guangzhou.

Quanzhou became an opium smuggling center in the 19th century but the siltation of its harbor long reduced its capacity for trade by larger ships.

Quanzhou, China is a port and a city on the eastern coast of the Fujian province. It's on the north bank of the Jin River. The city is now a regional market and commercial center for agricultural products.

There is smaller levels of industry in Quanzhou, such as the manufacturing of porcelain or the process of sugar refining. The city has been so nice that it has attracted investors from the overseas Taiwan and other Chinese communities. The city is thriving economically and continues to improve.

They also now have a new express highway that allows for quicker travel between majors cities in its province. It also has a top class airport that flies to major cities. The city has several buildings that are made of stone because it is staying with the medieval themes.

Today, Quanzhou is a big attraction for tourists visiting China.

One famous traveler to explore Quanzhou was Ibn Battuta. He visited sometime between the years 1260 and 1368. Quanzhou is a sea port in China so it was easy for Ibn Battuta to visit. Quanzhou is a Southern Chinese city where people generally lived in their own neighborhoods.

In these neighborhoods, mosques were built for people who wished to pray. There was also hospitals there so if people fell sick or needed medical attention, it was right there.

Also, the silk in Quanzhou was cheap and nice in quality there which caught Ibn Battuta's eye. Ibn Buttuta believed Quanzhou is the start of the Silk Road.

Quanzhou is the atonal pinyin romanization of the city's Chinese name, using its pronunciation in the Mandarin dialect. The name derives from the city's former status as the seat of the imperial Chinese Quan - Spring Prefecture.

Ch‘uan-chou was the Wade-Giles romanization of the same name; other forms include Chwanchow-foo, Chwan-chau fu, Chwanchew, Ts'uan-chou, Tswanchow-foo,Tswanchau, T'swan-chau fu, Ts'wan-chiu, Ts'wan-chow-fu,Thsiouan-tcheou-fou, and Thsíouan-cheou-fou.

The romanization Chuan-chiu, Choan-Chiu, and Shanju reflect the local Hokkien pronunciation Choan-chiu.

The Postal Map name of the city was Chinchew a variant of Chincheo, the Portuguese and Spanish transcription of Chiang-chiu, the local Hokkien name for Zhangzhou, the major Fujianese port trading with Macao and Manila in the 16th and 17th centuries.

It is uncertain when or why British sailors first applied the name to Quanzhou. Variants include Kangiu, Chinchu, and Chincheu.

Its Arabic name Zaiton or Zayton, once popular in English, means City of Olives and is a calque of Quanzhou's former Chinese nickname Citong Cheng meaning tung-tree city, which is derived from the avenues of oil-bearing tung trees ordered to be planted around the city by the city's 10th-century ruler Liu Congxiao.

Variant transcriptions from the Arabic name include Caiton, Çaiton, Çayton, Zaytún, Zaitûn, Zaitún, and Zaitūn. The common folk etymology of satin as deriving from Zaiton cloth seems, however, unsupported by the record.

Quanzhou proper lies on a spit of land between the estuaries of the Jin and Luo rivers as they flow into Quanzhou Bay on the Taiwan Strait. Its surrounding prefecture extends west halfway across the province and is hilly and mountainous.

Along with Xiamen and Zhangzhou to its south and Putian to its north, it makes up Fujian Province's Southern Coast region. In its mountainous interior, it borders Longyan to the southwest and Sanming to the northwest.

The city features a humid subtropical climate. Quanzhou has four distinct seasons. Its moderate temperature ranges from 0 to 38 degrees Celsius. In summer, there are typhoons that bring rain and some damage to the city.

Quanzhou has had 2 major earthquakes:

- The year of 1394

- 29 December 1604

Wang Guoqing used the area as a base of operations for the Chen State before he was subdued by the Sui general Yang Su in the ad 590s.Quanzhou proper was established under the Tang in 718 on a spit of land between two branches of the Jin River.

Muslim traders reached the city early on in its existence, along with their existing trade at Guangzhou and Yangzhou.

Already connected to inland Fujian by roads and canals, Quanzhou grew to international importance in the first century of the Song.

It received an office of the maritime trade bureau in 1079 or 1087 and functioned as the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road into the Yuan, eclipsing both the overland trade routes and Guangzhou.

A 1095 inscription records two convoys, each of twenty ships, arriving from the Southern Seas each year. Quanzhou's maritime trade developed the area's ceramics, sugar, alcohol, and salt industries.

90% of Fujian's ceramic production at the time was jade colored celadon, produced for export. Frankincense was such a coveted import that promotions for the trade superintendents at Guangzhou and Quanzhou were tied to the amount they were able to bring in during their terms in office.

During this period it was one of the world's largest and most cosmopolitan seaports. By 1120, its prefecture claimed a population of around 500,000. Its Luoyang Bridge was formerly the most celebrated bridge in China. The Anping Bridge is also well known.

Quanzhou initially continued to thrive under the Southern Song produced by the Jin–Song Wars. A 1206 report listed merchants from Arabia, Sumatra, Cambodia, Brunei, Java, Champa, Burma, Korea, and the city-states of the Philippines.

One of its customs inspectors, Zhao Rugua, completed his compendious Description of Barbarian Nations c. 1225, recording the people, places, and items involved in China's foreign trade in his age. Other imperial records from the time use it as the zero mile for distances between China and foreign countries.

Tamil merchants carved idols of Vishnu and Shiva and constructed Hindu temples in Quanzhou. Over the course of the 13th century.

However, Quanzhou's prosperity declined due to instability among its trading partners and increasing restrictions introduced by the Song in an attempt to restrict the outflow of copper and bronze currency from areas forced to use hyperinflating paper money.

The increasing importance of Japan to China's foreign trade also benefited Ningbonese merchants at Quanzhou's expense, given their extensive contacts with Japan's major ports on Hakata Bay on Kyushu.

Under the Mongolian Yuan dynasty, a superintendent of foreign trade was established in the city in 1277, along with those at Shanghai, Ningbo, and Guangzhou.

The former Song superintendent Pu Shougeng, an Arab or Persian Muslim, was retained for the new post, using his contacts to restore the city's trade under its new rulers. He was broadly successful, restoring much of the port's former greatness, and his office became hereditary in his descendants.

Into the 1280s, Quanzhou sometimes served as the provincial capital for Fujian. Its population was around 455,000 in 1283, the major items of trade being pepper and other spices, gemstones, pearls, and porcelain.

Marco Polo recorded that the Yuan emperors derived a vast revenue from their 10% duty on the port's commerce; he called Quanzhou's portone of the two greatest havens in the world for commerce and the Alexandria of the East.

Ibn Battuta simply called it the greatest port in the world. Polo noted its tattoo artists were famed throughout Southeast Asia.

It was the point of departure for Marco Polo's 1292 return expedition, escorting the 17-year-old Mongolian princess Kokochin to her fiance in the Persian Ilkhanate; a few decades later, it was the point of arrival and departure for Ibn Battuta.

Kublai Khan's invasions of Japan and Java sailed primarily from its port. The Islamic geographer Abulfeda noted c. 1321 that its city walls remained ruined from its conquest by the Mongols.

In the mid-1320s, Friar Odoric noted the town's two Franciscan monasteries, but admitted the Buddhist monasteries were much larger, with over 3000 monks in one.
In 1357, the Shiite Muslim garrison undertook the Ispah Rebellion against the Yuan and their local Sunni Muslim leadership. By 1362, they controlled the countryside as far as the outskirts of Fuzhou, but after a defeat by the Yuan there they retreated to Quanzhou.

There, their leaders were killed by Nawuna, a descendant of Pu Shougeng, who was killed in turn by Chen Youding. Chen began a campaign of persecution against the city's Sunni community—including massacres and grave desecration—that eventually became a general anti-Muslim pogrom.

Emigrants fleeing the persecution rose to prominent positions throughout Southeast Asia, spurring the development of Islam on Java and elsewhere.The Yuan were expelled in 1368.

The Ming discouraged foreign commerce other than formal tributary missions. By 1473, trade had declined to the point that Quanzhou was no longer the headquarters of the imperial customs service for Fujian.

The Japanese or dwarf pirates, most of whom were actually disaffected Chinese, forced Quanzhou's Superintendency of Trade to close completely in 1522.

The Sea Ban that followed did not help the city's traders or fishermen: they were forced to abandon their access to the sea for years at a time and coastal farmers forced to relocate miles inland.

In the 19th century, the city walls still protected a circuit of 7–8 miles (11–13 km) but embraced much vacant ground. The bay began to attract Jardines' and Dents' opium ships from 1832.

Following the First Opium War, Governor Henry Pottinger proposed using Quanzhou as an official opium depot to keep the trade out of Hong Kong and the other treaty ports but the rents sought by the imperial commissioner Qiying were too high.

When Chinese pirates overran the receiving ships in Shenhu Bay to capture their stockpiles of silver bullion in 1847, however, the traders moved to Quanzhou Bay regardless. Around 1862, a Protestant mission was set up in Quanzhou.

As late as the middle of the century, large Chinese junks could still access the town easily, trading in tea, sugar, tobacco, porcelain, and nankeens, but sand bars created by the rivers around the town had generally incapacitated its harbor by the First World War.

It remained a large and prosperous city, but conducted its maritime trade through Anhai.

In 2004, Quanzhou was listed among CCTV's Ten Most Charming Cities in China.

The prefecture-level city of Quanzhou administers four districts, three county-level cities, four counties, and two special economic districts.

The People's Republic of China claims Jinmen County, more widely known as Kinmen County, as part of Quanzhou, but the territory is currently under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China.

Since its founding in 1949, the People's Republic of China or Mainland China has claimed the Jinmen Islands as part of Quanzhou but has never controlled them. They are presently administered as Kinmen County in the Republic of China or Taiwan.

Medieval Quanzhou was long one of the most cosmopolitan Chinese cities, with folk, Buddhist, and Hindu temples; Islamic mosques; and Christian churches, including Nestorian and a cathedral - financed by a rich Armenian lady and two Franciscan monasteries.

Andrew of Perugia served as the Roman Catholic bishop of the city from 1322. Odoric of Pordenone was responsible for relocating the relics of the four Franciscans martyred at Thana in India in 1321 to the mission in Quanzhou.

Protestant The English Presbyterian missionaries raised a chapel around 1862. The Qingjing Mosque dates to 1009 but is now preserved as a museum. The Buddhist Kaiyuan Temple has been repeatedly rebuilt but includes two 5-story 13th-century pagodas.

Among the most popular folk or Taoist temples is that to Guandi, the war god who is honored for his control of weather and wealth. Jinjiang also preserves the Cao'an Temple, originally constructed by Manicheans under the Yuan but now used by New Age spiritualists, and a Confucian Temple Wenmiao.

Locals speak the Quanzhou variety of Min Nan similar to Amoy spoken in Xiamen, similar to South East Asian Hokkien and Taiwanese. It is essentially the same as the dialect spoken in Xiamen and is unintelligible with Mandarin.

Many overseas Chinese whose ancestors came from the Quanzhou area, especially those in Southeast Asia, often speak mainly Hokkien at home. In Taiwan, the locals speak a version of the Minnan language which is called Taiwanese.

Around the Southern Min triangle area, which includes Quanzhou, Xiamen and Zhangzhou, locals all speak Minnan languages. The dialects they speak are similar but have different intonations.

Quanzhou has been a center for Chinese emigration to Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Some of these communities date to Quanzhou's heyday a millennia ago under the Song and Yuan dynasties. About 6 million overseas Chinese trace their ancestry to Quanzhou.

Most of them live in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, or Thailand.

Historically, Quanzhou exported black tea, camphor, sugar, indigo, tobacco, ceramics, cloth made of grass, and some minerals.

They imported, primarily from Guangzhou, wool cloth, wine, and watches, as of 1832. As of that time, the East India Company was exporting an estimated ₤150,000 a year in black tea from Quanzhou.

Quanzhou is a major exporter of agricultural products such as tea, banana, lychee and rice. It is also a major producer of quarry granite and ceramics. Other industries include textiles, footwear, fashion and apparel, packaging, machinery, paper and petrochemicals.

Quanzhou is the biggest automotive market in Fujian; it has the highest rate of private automobile possession.

Its GDP ranked first in Fujian Province for 20 years, from 1991 to 2010. In 2008, Quanzhou's textile and apparel production accounted for 10% of China's overall apparel production, stone exports account for 50% of Chinese stone exports.

Resin handicraft exports account for 70% of the country's total, ceramic exports account for 67% of the country's total, candy production accounts for 20%, and the production of sport and tourism shoes accounts for 80% of Chinese, and 20% of world production.

Because of this, Quanzhou is known today as China's shoe city. Quanzhou's 3,000 shoe factories produce 500 million pairs a year, making nearly one in every four pairs of sneakers made in China.

Different districts and counties in Quanzhou have their own special industries which are known to the rest of China. J

injiang and Shishi are famous for apparel and textiles, Huian is famous for its stone, Quangang is famous for petrifaction, Dehua for Ceramics, Yongchun for Citrus, Anxi for wulong tea, Nan An for building materials, and Fengze for resin.

Quanzhou is an important transport hub within southeastern Fujian province. Many export industries in the Fujian interior cities will transport goods to Quanzhou ports. Quanzhou Port was one of the most prosperous port in Tang Dynasty while now still an important one for exporting.

Quanzhou is also connected by major roads from Fuzhou to the north and Xiamen to the south.

There is a passenger ferry terminal in Shijing, Nan'an, Fujian, with regular service to the Shuitou Port in the ROC-controlled Kinmen Island.

Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport is Quanzhou region's airport, served by passenger flights within Fujian province and other destinations throughout the country.

Quanzhou has two kinds of railway service. The Zhangping–Quanzhou–Xiaocuo Railway, a conventional rail line opened ca. 2001, connects several cargo stations within Quanzhou Prefecture with the interior of Fujian and the rest of the country.

Until 2014, this line also had passenger service, with fairly slow passenger trains from Beijing, Wuhan, and other places throughout the country terminating at the Quanzhou East Railway Station, a few kilometers northeast of the center of the city.

Passenger service on this line was terminated, and Quanzhou East Railway Station closed on December 9, 2014.

Since 2010, Quanzhou is served by the high-speed Fuzhou–Xiamen Railway, part of the Hangzhou–Fuzhou–Shenzhen High-Speed Railway, which runs along China's southeastern sea coast.

High-speed trains on this line stop at Quanzhou Railway Station in Beifeng Subdistrict of Fengze District, some 10 miles north of Quanzhou city center and Jinjiang Railway Station.

Trains to Xiamen take under 45 minutes, making it a convenient weekend or day trip. By 2015, direct high-speed service has become available to a number of cities in the country's interior, from Beijing to Chongqing and Guiyang.

Long-distance bus services also run daily/nightly to Shenzhen and other major cities.

Quanzhou has several Colleges and universities:

- Huaqiao University (national)

- Yang-en University (private)

- Quanzhou Normal University (public)

- Quanzhou Medical College (public)

- Huguang Photography and Art College

- Liming Vocational University(public)

Quanzhou is generally ignored by Chinese tourists in favor of nearby Xiamen. Nonetheless, Quanzhou was one of the 24 famous historic cultural cities first approved by the Chinese government.

Notable cultural practices include:

- Liyuan Opera

- Puppet Show

- Gaojia Opera

- Dacheng Opera

- Nanyin, a musical style dating to the Han but performed in the local dialect.

- Quanzhou Shaolin Five Ancestors Fist.

- Yongchun martial arts

The city hosted the Sixth National Peasants' Games in 2008. Signature local dishes include rice dumplings and oyster omelettes.

Notable Historical and cultural sites, the 18 views of Quanzhou as recommended by the Fujian tourism board include the Ashab Mosque and Kaiyuan Temple mentioned above, as well as:

- Qing Yuan mountain - The tallest hill within the city limits, which hosts a great view of West lake.

- East Lake Park - Located in the city center. It is home to a small zoo.

- West Lake Park - The largest body of fresh water within the city limits.

- Scholar Street - Champion street about 500 meters long, elegant environment, mainly engaged in tourism and cultural crafts.

Notable Modern cultural sites include:

- Fengze Square. Located in the city center and acts as a venue for shows and events.

- Dapingshan. The second tallest hill within the city limits, crowned with an enormous equestrian statue of Zheng Chenggong.

- The Embassy Lounge. Situated in the "1916 Cultural Ideas Zone" which acts as a platform for mixing traditional Chinese art with modern building techniques and designs.

Relics from Quanzhou's past are preserved at the Maritime or Overseas-Relations History Museum. It includes large exhibits on Song-era ships and Yuan-era tombstones. A particularly important exhibit is the so-called Quanzhou ship, a seagoing junk that sunk some time after 1272 and was recovered in 1973–74.

The old city center preserves balcony buildings - qilou, a style of southern Chinese architecture from the Republican Era.

Li Nu, son of Li Lu, visited Hormuz in Persia in 1376, converted to Islam, married a Persian girl, and brought her back to Quanzhou. Li Nu was the ancestor of the Ming reformer Li Chih.

The Ding or Ting family of Chendai in Quanzhou claims descent from the Muslim leader Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar through his son Nasr al-Din or Nasruddin in Chinese: Nasulading.

The Dings have branches in Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia among the Chinese communities there, no longer practicing Islam but still maintaining a Hui identity.

The deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Muslim Association on Taiwan, Ishag Ma has claimed Sayyid is an honorable title given to descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, hence Sayyid Shamsuddin must be connected to Prophet Mohammed.

The Ding family in Taisi Township in Yunlin County of Taiwan, traces descent from him through the Ding of Quanzhou in Fujian. Nasruddin was appointed governor in Karadjang and retained his position in Yunnan till his death, which Rashid, writing about 1300, says occurred five or six years before.

According to the Yuan shi, Nasulading died in 1292. Nasruddin's son Abubeker, who had the surname Bayan Fenchan evidently the Boyen ch'a-r of the Yuan shi, was governor in Zaitun at the time Rashid wrote.

He bore also his grandfather's title of Sayid Edjell and was Minister of Finance under Kublai's successor. Nasruddin is mentioned by Marco Polo, who styles him Nescradin.

Quanzhou is also the birthplace of the actress Yao Chen.

Tourism Observer

Saturday 21 July 2018

KENYA: Kenya Airways To Face Stiff Competition Soon From African Airline

Nigeria has announced plans to revive its collapsed national carrier as Uganda ordered two Airbus planes, increasing pressure on Kenya Airways (KQ) which mainly flys African routes.

Nigeria on Wednesday launched its national carrier known as Nigeria Air, which is to fly in December targeting the West African market.

Uganda Airlines also announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding for two A330-800neo Airbus planes for its long –haul network.

Kenya Airways is already facing strong competition on its African and Asian routes as the average fare has declined due to competition.

In its annual report for the year ended December 2017, the national carrier stated that more than half the revenue decline was as a result of the drop in average fares on the routes.

This downward trend in fare is the result of increased competition and overcapacity on Intra-Africa and AfricAsia traffic flows.

The main competitors that Kenya Airways must contend with on these traffic flows include Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir, Qatar Airways and Emirates, said KQ in its financial reports.

Increased capacity by its competitors has already taken a chunk of the carrier’s revenue.

Recent acquisition of planes by Uganda and Tanzania as well as the signing of a partnership between Ethiopian airlines and the Zambian government to revive the national airline for Zambia is only making the skies difficult for Kenya Airways.

According to Ephraim Bagenda, CEO of Uganda Airlines, the agreement with Airbus demonstrates economic growth supported by a robust aviation industry.

Tanzania Airlines received its first Boeing Dreamliner about two weeks ago.

The plane will poise the airline to connect Tanzania directly with other East African nations including Uganda and Burundi without having to fly through Nairobi, Addis or Kigali.

According to IATA, 2017 saw traffic for African airline grow by 7.5 per cent, yet the capacity rose at only 3.6 per cent. This, an indicator of the demand for more capacity on the various routes in the market.

KQ’s competitors have grown their capacities on these flows over the last two years while its capacity has declined marginally.

According to KQ’s annual report, Ethiopian’s capacity is up by about 20 per cent while RwandAir’s capacity is up 22 per cent.

Emirates and Qatar also have grown their capacity by six per cent and 12 per cent respectively. This resulted in significant downward pressure on fares as airlines fight for traffic to fill the flood of seats in the market.

In 2016, KQ suspended flights to Abuja and Gaborone as part of changes to its route network.

During the time, Gaberone was served via Johannesburg with partners.

In its 2017 annual report Kenya Airways blamed the decline in revenue on competition from other regional players, which resulted in lower fares.

Kenya Airways troubles may not be over yet following the recent move by Tanzania to revive its national carrier while Uganda is set to re-launch its airline in November with Ethiopia continuing to expand its fleet.

Air Tanzania will start flying to Entebbe from Dar es Salaam later next month, eating directly into KQ’s share of this lucrative market where it has dominated for the last 15 years after Uganda’s national carrier halted operations.

More than half of the revenue decline that was registered between 2016 and 2017 is attributable to a drop in the average fare recorded on African and Asian routes.

This downward trend in fare is the result of increased competition and overcapacity on intra-Africa and AfricAsia traffic flows, said KQ in its financial statement

While other airlines are expanding their capacity, KQ’s has declined marginally in the last two years.

For instance, Ethiopian’s capacity is up by about 20 per cent while RwandAir has grown by 22 per cent with Emirates and Qatar registering a growth of six and 12 per cent respectively in the last two years.

This competition resulted in significant downward pressure on fares as airlines fight for traffic to fill the flood of seats in the market, said KQ.

Air Tanzania has bought five aircraft so far: a Bombardier Q300, three Q400s and a long range Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The Tanzanian government plans to fly its Boeing 787 to India even as it targets its southern neighbour Zambia, where KQ still enjoys a substantive market share.

Uganda is also in the process of reviving its national airline before the end of the year after the cabinet approved the plan.

This move comes at a time when Ethiopian Airlines, arguably Africa’s most profitable career, has turned focus on reviving some of the stalled airlines in the region.

The carrier has acquired a 45 per cent stake in Zambia Airways which is set to be re-launched after more than two decades.

Under the pact, the Zambian government will be the majority shareholder with a 55 per cent stake.

KQ has at least four daily flights to Dar es Salaam, fiver to Entebbe, four to Lusaka and one more daily flight to Livingstone (Zambia).

Ethiopian Airlines is also seeking to set up hubs in southern Africa, Central Africa and the Horn.

The airline said it is working with Malawi and Zambia as southern Africa hubs. Another hub will be in central Africa, covering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Chad.

Kenya Airways’ shareholder value moved into positive territory riding on last year’s balance sheet after restructuring which reduced its annual debt payment obligations, leaving room for revamping its operations.

KQ’s equity position stood at Sh417 million in the nine months between April and December 2017 compared to a negative Sh45 billion in the year to March 2017, according to a financial report released last month.

The change in fortunes follows a complex restructuring of the business that saw the airline’s main creditors —10 commercial banks and the government — convert Sh44.2 billion loans into equity to save it from collapse.

The airline has started expansion on some new routes including Mauritius where it has been code sharing with Air Mauritius. Later in the year, KQ will launch its inaugural flight to the US.

Ethiopian Airlines launched a new route to the US on June 2, its fourth destination in the country, in what appears to be direct competition with Kenya Airways.

Tourism Observer

JAPAN: Mitsubishi Regional Jet For Delivery Starting Mid 2020

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet will complete another set of test flights in the latter half of 2018 following design changes, keeping Japan's first homegrown passenger jet in decades on track for delivery starting in mid-2020, the head of Mitsubishi Aircraft says.

The MRJ's delivery date has been postponed five times, most recently in January 2017 for design modifications that involve shifting some equipment and wiring.

But a fresh design is within reach, and Mitsubishi Aircraft has resumed production of fittings for the plane, President Hisakazu Mizutani said.

The wiring redesign will kick off in earnest in 2018, he said.

Mizutani said after becoming president of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries unit in April that the design changes would conclude around autumn 2017.

He denied that development had fallen behind schedule, saying that everything was going nearly as planned.

The president also has spoken of possibly handing off the first MRJs at the end of 2019, but he insists that date is ultimately an internal target.

The company has promised clients an initial delivery date in mid-2020, and will keep its word, he said.

The MRJ needs to receive type certification by that time in order to fly commercially. Around 3,000 hours of flight testing are thought necessary to earn that stamp of approval.

Mitsubishi Aircraft says the jet has racked up over 1,500 hours in test flights conducted in the U.S., and Mizutani said additional flights reflecting the design changes will occur in the second half of 2018.

But according to Japan's transport ministry, the aircraft is not yet prepared to begin test flights for type certification or undergo review.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has roped in orders for 447 of the jets so far. But 40 of those came from American carrier Eastern Air Lines, which was purchased by rival Swift Air in 2017.

Though the Japanese company continues to negotiate with Eastern over the MRJs, it is possible they could cancel the order for the 40 jets, Mizutani said.

The aircraft developer ended March 2017 in a financial hole of roughly 51 billion yen or $452 million at current rates, and is borrowing from its parent to continue work on the jet.

Tourism Observer

JAPAN: Eastern Air Lines Cancels Order For 40 Mitsubishi Regional Jets From Mitsubishi Aircraft

Mitsubishi Aircraft has agreed with Eastern Air Lines to cancel the U.S. carrier's order for 40 Mitsubishi Regional Jets.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has received orders for around 450 MRJs.

According to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries unit, the cancellation will not affect delivery of other jets.

Mitsubishi Aircraft, which has pushed back its first deliveries five times already, now expects to ship its first jets in 2020.

Eastern Air last year was purchased by rival Swift Air. Eastern then lost its airline license.

The carrier ordered the passenger jets four years ago, and delivery was originally scheduled to start in 2019, but Mitsubishi Aircraft has twice pushed back the date, which had been up in the air before the cancellation.

The Japanese company is now anxious about other orders, like one from SkyWest of the U.S. for 200 aircraft.

The MRJ made its maiden test flight in 2015 and has been taking to the air for further tests in the U.S. since then.

Last January, however, Mitsubishi Aircraft was forced to announce a fifth delay, saying the MRJ failed to be certified as airworthy by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Since then, other makers of regional jets have been heaping pressure on Mitsubishi Aircraft. Brazil's Embraer, regarded as the biggest player in the space, is in tie-up negotiations with Boeing.

Canada's Bombardier has already joined hands with Airbus. And a Chinese company, Comac, has introduced its own regional jet.

In Japan, the fate of the MRJ progra, the first effort to produce a domestic passenger aircraft in about a half century is a matter of national pride.

Amid all the media attention, there are hopes that the jet can debut in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has decided to act. It has brought the problem ridden Mitsubishi Aircraft under the direct supervision of its president, Shunichi Miyanaga.

The parent company also plans to hire aircraft engineers away from U.S. makers so that they can help the MRJ win certification by the end of next year.

Tourism Observer

Thursday 19 July 2018

IRELAND: Goshawk Aviation Limited To Acquire 20 Airbus A320neo Aircraft

Goshawk Aviation Limited, the 50/50 joint venture between Hong Kong-based conglomerate NWS Holdings Limited and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, has placed a firm order for 20 A320neo.

Goshawk Aviation is based in Dublin, Ireland, and has an owned, managed and committed fleet of over 220 aircraft including the direct order with Airbus.

Goshawk has more than 120 Airbus aircraft in its portfolio - A320 Family including NEO, A330 Family including NEO and A350-900 and the order for A320neo re-enforces the appeal of the world’s bestselling single aisle Family.

Engine selection will be made at a later date.

Featuring the widest single aisle cabin in the sky, the efficient A320neo Family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver more than 15 percent fuel and CO2 savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020 as well as 50 percent noise reduction.

With more than 6,100 orders received from over 100 customers, the A320neo Family has captured some 60 percent share of the market.

Tourism Observer

USA: Why Airbus A330neo Is Not Selling

The Airbus A330neo is Europe's answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Instead of creating brand a new aircraft from scratch as Boeing did with the Dreamliner, Airbus decided to optimize the existing Airbus A330ceo or current engine option jet that has been around since the mid-1990s.

Airbus launched the updated A330neo or new engine option at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014. Since then, the A330neo has netted 224 orders from airlines around the world with Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X as its largest customers with 66 on order.

The A330neo's only US airline customer is Delta with 25 orders on the books.

While 224 orders in four years are nothing to scoff at, the A330neo has lagged behind the rival Dreamliner in the sales department.

The Boeing jet has taken more than 400 orders in the same period and has sold nearly 1,400 units since 2004.

According to Airbus America's new CEO Jeff Knittel, the A330neo's lack of sales can be attributed to a soft widebody jet market and the replacement cycle of existing airliners.

The widebody market, in general, has been slower over the past year or two and some of that can be attributed to the replacement cycle, Knittel said at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.

The current generation Airbus A330ceo is still on sale and is one of the most popular widebody airliners in the world. As result, Knittel said, the A330 is still a relatively young aircraft in many operators' fleets and have not hit their replacement cycle yet.

When you have airplanes that are older, the analysis to flip them out and put in new airplanes is much easier and in most cases fairly obvious, the former chief of executive of airplane leasing firm C2 Aviation Capital said.

But the A330ceo is a good airplane with good range and has been improved a lot over the past 10 years.

This has led many potential buyers to hang on to their current fleet of very capable planes a little longer.

As the replacement cycles come and as the A330neo enters peoples' fleets, I think you will see sales accelerate on that airplane because they will see that the neo is a fundamentally improved aircraft over what was already a very good aircraft, to begin with,Knittel said.

The A330neo features updated aerodynamics, fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, and the big brother A350's AirSpace interior design.

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USA: Delta's Dog Troubles Continue After Pomeranian's Death

Delta's difficulties with transporting animals continued, following the death of a dog traveling in the cargo hold of one of its planes during a cross-country flight.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said its investigating the death of a Pomeranian named Alejandro, who was found dead after traveling from Phoenix to Newark via Detroit.

The Atlanta-based airline issued a statement saying: We know pets are an important member of the family and we are focused on the well-being of all animals we transport.

Delta is conducting a thorough review of the situation and have been working directly with Alejandro's family to support them however we can.

As part of that review, we want to find out more about why this may have occurred to ensure it doesn't happen again and we have offered to have Alejandro evaluated by a veterinarian to learn more.

Delta and other airlines have struggled with the surging number of animals being transported in their cabins. The company altered its service animal policy on March 1, saying a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight.

The airline then drew the ire of two Boise, Idaho families later that month, when their puppies were allegedly inadvertently flown thousands of miles around the country.

Chicago-based United Airlines has also faced scrutiny for its publicized mishandling of animals, including the death of a French bulldog puppy that died after being placed in an overhead bin.

The airline, which is a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc., said last month it would no longer accept animals other than cats and dogs, and banned dozens of dog breeds from its cargo hold.

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USA: Delta Enticing Flight Attendants A $1K Bonus For Extra Summer Duty As A Thank you

Delta Air Lines has its ways of enticing frontline employees to go that extra hour this summer, which, as we all know, is peak travel season.

Delta Air Lines this year is offering every flight attendant who works at least 100 hours each month during June, July and August a “thank you” bonus payout of $1,000.

According to a Delta spokeswoman, for the last three years the carrier has offered some kind of bonus incentive to keep flight attendants on the job for a minimum of 100 hours a month during the summer.

Of course, Delta flight attendant sources see both the upside and downside of this "thank you" incentive. The upside is easy. It’s more cash in their pockets.

The downside is that flight attendants who want that extra cash may push themselves to work more hours than they would be comfortable working.

Or it may push them to work hours even when they are under the weather, or possibly even suffering from some more serious malady, like the flu, which wouldn’t be good for the employee or for those who work or fly as passengers in close proximity to said employee.

But keeping more workers, especially flight attendants, on the job during peak travel season is good for Delta, for sure.

It gives Delta more flexibility when flights run the risk of being delayed or worse yet cancelled because of crew-related issues.

And such a scenario is definitely not something Delta wants. Delta has become the preeminent carrier when it comes to on-time arrival performance among the four largest domestic carriers, which also include United Continental Holding Group Inc.'s United Airline, American Airlines Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co.

Having the flight attendants at hand to keep planes running on time has to be one of the secret or now not so secret tactics Delta is employing to ensure the airline maintains it leadership status in on-time performance.

And as Delta and its competitors know all too well, the peak summer travel season with rampant thunderstorms and packed planes aplenty is when United States based carriers’ ability to keep planes operating on schedule is tested to the max.

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USA: Delta To Recruit 8,000 Pilots In The Next Decade

Delta is clearing a path for its current employees and a diverse swath of young aviators to become pilots through a new program aimed at filling thousands of future voids inside the cockpit.

Delta Air Lines Inc. launched its Delta Propel Pilot Career Path Program, which includes a three-pronged approach at developing the next generation of flyers.

With many pilots approaching mandatory retirement age Delta said it expects to hire more than 8,000 pilots over the next decade.

The Propel program supplements the airline’s current recruiting structure, which includes recruiting and hiring pilots currently flying in the airline, military and corporate sectors.

Delta conducted several years of research to create a pilot outreach and pathway program that will inspire and attract the next generations of high-quality talent, said Steve Dickson, Senior Vice President – Flight Operations, in a news release.

As a global industry leader, we are taking a holistic approach to expanding the opportunities available to aspiring pilots.

We listened to feedback from students, parents, faculty, administrators and Delta employees to help overcome barriers for potential pilot candidates such as career path uncertainty and the Certificated Flight Instructor shortage.

Delta is initially partnering with eight universities with accredited aviation programs, including Middle Georgia State to interview collegiate aviation students.

The internal career path is a highly selective program that provides current Delta employees an unpaid leave of absence opportunity to attend flight school.

Applications for the program will start being accepted in August. Delta detailed an estimated 42-month timeline that would direct students and employees to piloting mainline aircraft.

Delta is also looking for aspiring pilots, including engagement with kindergarten through high school students.

Among Delta's partnerships are: Conyers Middle School – Center for Technology and Engineering, National Gay Pilots Association, National Flight Academy, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and Women in Aviation International.

Delta's more than 13,000 pilots are thinning because of the federally mandated retirement age of 65, or leaving for other companies.

Meanwhile, The Boeing Co. estimates a global need for 637,000 new pilots by 2036, 18 percent of which are in North America. The Bureau of Labor of Statistics listed the median pilot salary in May at $78,740.

Delta Air Lines is asking flight attendants, ticket agents and other employees to consider taking a seat at the cockpit controls.

Concerned about a shortage of pilots, the second-largest U.S. airline is offering its workers the chance to take an unpaid leave of absence to attend flight school. On the other end a job flying a Delta jet.

Delta estimates it will need to hire more than 8,000 pilots over the next decade, as its ranks of more than 13,000 pilots thin due to the federally mandated retirement age of 65, or leave for other companies.

The initiative is part of a broader program Delta unveiled on Tuesday that also includes conditional job offers for certain college students.

Pilots are aging while air travel demand grows globally. The high cost of training and low starting salaries are hurdles to the field. Boeing, the world's largest airplane manufacturer, estimates a global need for 637,000 new pilots by 2036, 18 percent of them in North America.

Fight school doesn't come cheap. ATP Flight School, one of the schools Delta is encouraging its internal applicants to attend, costs about $80,000 for someone with zero flying experience. Students also have to train longer than they used to.

After the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air plane due to pilot error, the Federal Aviation Administration five years ago raised the minimum number of hours of flight experience to become a passenger airline pilot to 1,500 from 250.

Delta declined to disclose pilot pay, but the median pilot salary in May was $78,740, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents Delta, United and several other airlines' pilots, said pay at regional carriers, which offer a hiring pool for big commercial airlines, can be less than half that amount. Captains at major airlines can make more than $100,000.

If you pay them, they will come, Roger Phillips, an ALPA spokesman, said about hiring new pilots.

Other airlines are pursuing their own programs to recruit pilots. American Airlines earlier this year started offering loans for student pilots.

The Delta Propel Pilot Career Path Program, which works with both students and employees who have an interest in flying, aims to make that path more attractive, the company said in announcing the program.

The airline is accepting applications in August from students at eight universities with an accredited aviation program, including Auburn University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of North Dakota.

Students can continue their benefits with Delta as long as they pay a share of the costs. The company declined to detail the costs.

Delta estimates they can get a job with the airline within 42 months after flying for the airline's private jet arm, instructing other students, flying for Delta's regional partners or flying military aircraft.

For its employees in the program, Delta said they would work for up to 42 months at a Delta regional airline, which pays less and flies shorter routes, before coming back to work for the mainline operation.

Both employees and students will be paired with an active Delta pilot as a mentor.

The airline, which said it developed the recruiting program over several years, is also working with professional associations such as the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Women in Aviation International, the National Intercollegiate Flying Association and the National Gay Pilots Association to encourage students through high school age to pursue a career in aviation.

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