Vol. 11 No. 18                                                                                                                Tuesday February 28, 2012

     It was just about a year ago that Air Cargo Africa (Feb 20-22, 2011) was held in Nairobi, Kenya.
     We have been thinking about that event and the impact a big show at home must have had on the hearts and minds of the airline builders at Kenya Airways, Nairobi’s hometown airline.
     Right now in early 2012, Kenya Airways Cargo is off to a flying start as it continues to expand its services, having taken on its first freighter last September.
     That freighter—a B737—is the first of its kind in the KQ fleet, and today it is spreading its wings over the Central African region, covering Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and southern Sudan.
     Even more ambitious, Kenya Airways Cargo launched all-cargo lift via B747-400 freighter services last month (January 2012) in association with Martinair (KLM owns 26 percent of KQ, Government of Kenya owns 23 percent, and private investors own 51 percent).
     Now, just one year after the big show left town, Kenya Airways Cargo B747F services reach out and fly weekly from Nairobi to Amsterdam, Sharjah, Guangzhou, and then back to Sharjah, Nairobi and on to Lagos.
With Kenya air cargo tonnage projected to rise by 7.96 percent in 2012 (driven in part by some difficulties due to congestion at the Port of Mombasa and the ever present challenges of shipping via rail in Kenya), the carrier could reportedly secure two B737 freighters later this year to operate from its Nairobi hub to interior points throughout the country and region as well.
     “We are expanding partnerships in Europe,” Sauda Rajab, Kenya Airways Cargo General Manager, told FlyingTypers.
     “The idea is to connect the three continents—Asia, Africa and Europe,” she declared.
     “We believe we are suitably situated to increase trade between China and Africa, and felt this would work both for us and our partners.
     “Africa’s trade doubled from 2000 to 2009, and trade with emerging markets, rather than traditional economic partners, has grown most rapidly.
     “The share of trade with emerging economies has grown from 23 percent to 39 percent in the past 10 years and China’s share of Africa’s trade has tripled,” Sauda Rajab said.
     Sauda Rajab also noted that Kenya Airways Cargo has completed installation of an electronic cargo monitoring system and is only the second carrier in Africa to be e-freight compliant.
     “The new system is expected to reduce costs, improve transit times, accuracy, and the competitiveness of airfreight.
     “To increase e-freight penetration in Kenya, a Cargo Community System will be required for local freight forwarders who currently do not have a system with IATA messaging capabilities.
     “We are currently in discussions with the Kenya Revenue Authority to establish a CCS here that will automate the manual cargo booking that is currently in use.
     “This is a cog in the wheel of automating cargo freighting, which is currently laden with tedious paper processing.
     “A single transaction requires at least 30 forms of paper to be filled in and processed at any one time, making the booking, transport, and clearing unnecessarily long,” she said.
     Kenya Airways currently operates 34 airplanes to 48 countries.
     The carrier would like to accelerate growth to 60 aircraft during the next half decade and has ordered nine B787s, three B777s, and 10 Embraer aircraft.
     But the carrier, like many other operators around the world, had high hopes for inducting new generation B787s into its fleet in 2010; however, with Boeings inability to deliver the aircraft, the carrier has had to scramble to meet its growth demands, with first deliveries of the aircraft now expected in late 2013 or early 2014.
     To grow itself and acquire new aircraft, Kenya Airways is preparing for a public stock issue this year despite projections of softer earnings due to the Eurozone money crises, ultra high fuel costs, and some concern over national elections that will be held in Kenya to bring on a new government.
     Although the road ahead will be challenging as it moves forward in 2012, Kenya Airways has delivered profits for the past two years. With a growing cargo division and over three million passengers in 2011, the carrier is among Africa's fastest growing airlines.
     “Kenya Airways' business prospects remain strong.
     “Positive investor sentiment reflects confidence in the company's prospects going forward.
     “Our business fundamentals, including the 10-year growth strategy that is currently in motion, underpin the airline's strong prospects," said Titus Naikuni, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer.

     Ethiopian Airlines, the state-owned, East African airline and newest member of the Star Alliance, will be undergoing some organizational business changes. Following Lufthansa’s model of building up units as stand-alone segments with full responsibility in terms of profits or losses, Ethiopian Airlines will be testing this strategy with a number of their business units.
     For Ethiopian, the litmus test will be with the air freight department, the results of which will be used for other units once they too are separated from the parent company. Daniel Mebrate, (below left) VP Cargo, states:
     “Currently, there are still an awful lot of items to be solved and questions to be answered before this mission will be accomplished. But we are working hard to execute this highly ambitious plan.”
     While the project is still in its experimental stages, Ethiopian is scheduled to rent out the cargo compartments of its passenger fleet. Managing the main deck capacity of the airlines two MD-11Fs, two 757Fs and two leased B747Fs is now the responsibility of Mebrate and his team. The freighters are also in for some changes, as Ethiopian has decided to replace all six with new B777Fs, with the first two to be delivered in October and November 2012.

     “In addition we are eyeing B737 freighters to complement the long-haul 777s with smaller aircraft for regional African services,” said Senior VP Global Sales for Ethiopian Airlines, Esayas Woldemariam (above right).
     Ethiopian Airlines is the forerunner in Africa, serving passenger and cargo needs to approximately forty destinations on the continent, putting it ahead of Kenya Airways, South African Airways, and Egypt Air.
     The strongest market for ET is Europe, and despite an economic upswing, the import business is better than the export business, with full cargo loads on flights to Luanda, Kigali, and Lagos. Europe contributes roughly 50 percent to ET Cargo’s turnover both ways. In 2011, 160,000 tons were transported, an increase of 42 percent year-on-year. Esayas reports that the air freight business contributed 18 percent to ET’s revenue in 2011. While there have been only minor volumes going to the carrier’s central hub in Addis Ababa, the airline is currently establishing a sub-hub in Lomé. It is there that “we collaborate with regional carrier Asky Airlines, which offers routes within West Africa and to some Central African destinations. We utilize their capacity also for air freight transports,” confirms Mebrate. Ethiopian Airlines is the driving force behind Asky.
     Ethiopian serves eight destinations in Europe, including freighter flights to Liège in Belgium, some of which are operated to places in West Africa. The number of these flights may increase soon, since ET Cargo intends to deploy freighters on the “oil lane” from Liège to Houston, Brazil, onto Nigeria in West Africa, and back to Belgium.
    Ethiopian Cargo is represented by general sales and service agent ATC Aviation Services in Germany and Austria.  “Since 2009, we have tripled our turnover with Ethiopian Cargo in Germany and Austria,” states Ingo Zimmer, CEO of ATC Aviation Services. The partnership between his agency and Ethiopian Airlines is over a decade long. “Their steadily growing network, especially within Africa, enables us to offer our customers flying their goods via Addis all across the continent to most of the local markets,” says Zimmer.
     While the carrier is growing exponentially, there is one possible handicap to its growth. ET’s home base at Bole Airport cannot be enlarged, which means the rising passenger numbers and air freight tonnage could lead to traffic issues within the next few years. While the Ethiopian government has plans for a new airport in Mojo, just 50km from the capital, the massive project is not projected for completion before 2020.



     It took until March 2007 for Connie Napier Jr., (right) now 88 years young, who is among 300 surviving Tuskegee Airmen, to receive a U.S. Congressional Gold Medal for distinguished service.
     On Sunday, February 19, the wonderful New England Air Museum (NEAM) at Bradley Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, was graced with a visit from Connie, a hero aviator, in an open house, give-and-take atmosphere.
     Napier In 1944 was a flight officer with the Tuskegee Airmen — African American pilots who had a major role in the Allied victory in World War II and who helped integrate the ranks of the U.S. military.
     His story is told in the new film Red Tails, featured now in U.S. theaters and starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
A program on the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII, complete with exhibits, films and Airman Hero Connie, was at NEAM on Sunday from 11am-1pm.
     NEAM is also presenting The Costen Cultural Exhibit, a unique collection of rare photographs, ephemera, memorabilia, fine art, and collectibles designed to show the contributions and accomplishments of Americans, with an emphasis on African Americans throughout history.

     Produced by George Lucas of Indiana Jones and Star Wars fame, Red Tails is a big budget epic and the first movie from Lucasfilm dream factory that isn’t a guaranteed moneymaker franchise film… meaning Red Tails needs to be a good movie to get people in the seats.
     Here we get to see a group of black men with integrity, honor, valor, and dignity.
     Unfortunately, while the Lucas-owned Industrial Light & Magic’s visual spectacle delivers some great aerial fight sequences, pretty much everything in between is uneven.
     What should have been good, hard edged stuff is at times trite and even dopey—like in the opening scene where we watch German fighter planes rip apart American bombers. The dialogue in the form of a voice-over is just stupid.
     Also, speaking of Germans, Red Tails misses an opportunity to finally show individuals as they really are, as interesting, complicated, or multifaceted, relying instead on every nasty, overdone stereotype ever invented, including portraying one Luftwaffe pilot as perpetually villainous, angry, and loud as he screams and hollers into his flight mask.
     Red Tails, with such an inspiring story at its core, is already off of the screens in most of the American mainstream movie houses, having not built much of an audience despite this being Black History month in America.
     Red Tails actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrance Howard are quite fine, but the script and directing in this film is flat and uneven.
     But oh, those aerial sequences (albeit fleeting and too short in an overlong, two hour-plus film)…
Here is the trailer…


     (St. Louis) Lambert-St. Louis International Airport re-dedicated its Black Americans in Flight mural, which highlights the aviation contributions made by African Americans through the Space Age.
     The 51-ft mural in Lambert’s Terminal 1 Bag Claim is one of the largest paintings honoring the Tuskegee Airmen.
     Black Americans in Flight, painted by Thurman and the late Spencer Taylor, was originally dedicated in 1990.
Today the mural has been restored and some renovations have been made in the area around the 22-year old painting, including a new passenger waiting area at the exit of the C Concourse in Terminal 1.

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Our Martin Changed Air Cargo

     If you want to learn about August Martin, the great air cargo pilot who flew for Seaboard World Airlines during the 1950’s, and was also the first black man to captain a U.S. flag air cargo airplane, you better plan on either using your old Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, or visiting the wonderful high school located near JFK International Airport in Queens New York City named in honor of the air pioneer.
     The name August Martin as an internet search, most often comes up as “August” 28, 1963, when “Martin” Luther King delivered his never to be forgotten “I Have A Dream,” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
     This August Martin, a gentle man would go down in history as the first African American to serve as Captain on a U.S. scheduled airline.
     Put another way, before “Augie” as his friends called him, there had never been a black airline captain on the bridge of any U.S. flag airline.
     Although he flew for other carriers, including El Al Israel Airlines and a company called Buffalo Skylines between 1946 and 1955, it was Seaboard World Airlines, an air cargo company, which hired Augie and broke through a glass ceiling in American culture.
     Air cargo put a great aviation pioneer, who happened to be black, in the left seat.
     August Martin, who was born in 1916 had aviation blood in his veins.
     He worked all his life to be a pilot, training as a youngster to fly small prop jobs and later during World War II as a front line Mitchell B26 bomber pilot.
     He also took training at the Tuskegee, Alabama base, which spawned the legendary black pilots who gained fame as The Tuskegee Air Men.
     While awaiting his big break with a scheduled U.S. flag carrier, Augie worked as a stevedore on the New York docks to make ends meet.
     But when SWA came a knocking, August Martin was ready.
     For the next thirteen years Martin piloted the legendary all-cargo aircraft of SWA, including the Lockheed Constellation, Canadair CL44 swing-tail freighter, Douglas DC-4 and DC-6 among others.
     August Martin was not just about breaking through for himself. Augie also gave back big time.
     Often, he would donate his off time and vacations, flying supplies to the impoverished in Africa, and other points of emergency and need around the world.
     On July 1, 1968 August Martin was killed aboard just such a flight when his cargo-laden aircraft crashed in a blinding rainstorm as he attempted to land in Biafra, Africa.
     Today, in modern air cargo circles not much is known or said about August Martin.
     Air cargo groups and organizations, and increasingly publications yearly name people to this and that “Hall of Fame,” blithely unaware that one of the truly, great firsts in the history of air cargo was a black man with the rank and responsibility of Captain of a great international airline.
     August Martin deserves charter membership in any air cargo “Hall of Fame.”
     Here was a guy who not only makes us proud, he makes us look good.
     History demands the truth.

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