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Four top African airlines to take on Ethiopian

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By ALLAN OLINGO
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Four African airlines plan to launch the first African Civil Aviation Alliance before March next year, to break the stranglehold of Ethiopian Airlines on the continent and boost their fortunes through innovative ways.

Air Mauritius, South African Airways, RwandAir and Kenya Airways hope to use the alliance to achieve the “much needed economies of scale” which would accord them improved efficiency and collaborations.

The continent’s aviation sector has been dogged by challenges, including high taxes, airfare and the cost of jet fuel; poor airport infrastructure; international competition mostly from Gulf carriers, and inward-looking aviation policies which have pushed three of the four (except Air Mauritius) into a loss-making territory for more than four years in a row.

The four airlines have been discussing the alliance for over 15 months, and are currently putting final touches onto the deal.

It is expected that the arrangement will help them cut back on costs, improve synergy between hubs and expand code-sharing on several routes, making them more competitive than the continent’s top carrier, Ethiopian Airlines and foreign carriers making inroads into the continent.

The four are expected to formally announce the joint venture before the New Year.

Efforts to get a comment from Kenya Airways and RwandAir were unsuccessful as their representatives did not respond to e-mails from The EastAfrican.

In April, Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph said the airline was holding discussions with other carriers on a joint venture but did not offer any timelines or details.

“We have opened discussions with other airlines on joint venture partnerships. We have started discussions with South African Airways that could see us join forces on aircraft repairs and route joint ventures. So far, we have discussed issues of mutual concern. For example, we fly to similar destinations in Africa, so there’s a possibility we could share those routes,” said Mr Joseph.

The discussions which are complete, are hinged on how this alliance will work on a range of city pairs, route code shares, and joint use of lounges, maintenance and repair centres, and the co-ordination of their frequent flyer programmes.

“The drive for this alliance is partly pushed by the need to have the four airlines operate hub-and-spoke networks as they seek to enhance the demand for their respective networks, and increase their market power, especially at their hub airports,” a source with knowledge of the alliance said.

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Kenya Airways is already working on a plan with its host, the Kenya Airports Authority which will see it take charge of the Nairobi hub. South African Airways, RwandAir and Air Mauritius already enjoy this exclusivity in their Johannesburg, Kigali and Port Louis hubs.

“Once this comes into effect, we will see deeper co-operation between the four airlines on all aspects of their business. We are going to see realignments in terms of how they compete on both overlapping non-stop routes, and overlapping connecting routes,” The EastAfrican was told.

Already, Kenya Airways and Air Mauritius have confirmed the alliance, with the Port Louis-based carrier noting in its last Annual General Meeting that this would allow the parties involved to achieve the much needed economies of scale for each.

“Consultations are ongoing with African airlines including SAA, Kenya Airways and RwandAir for the setting up of the first African alliance. An advantage of these partnerships is to achieve economies of scale for better efficiency and collaborations including shared services and transfer of knowledge. For us, the goal is that Mauritius, becomes a powerful hub in Africa,” Air Mauritius board said at the AGM.

Already, Air Mauritius has expanded its existing codeshare with Kenya Airways into a reciprocal agreement. This allows it to codeshare, as a marketing carrier, on all Kenya Airways-operated flights between Nairobi and Mauritius. Kenya Airways already places its code on Air Mauritius’s three times weekly Mauritius-Nairobi flights.

For Air Mauritius, the added connectivity to the African mainland via Nairobi and Kigali would also allow it to further its overall goal of developing its main Port Louis hub, the Mauritius Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport into a key conduit for Africa-Asia and Africa-Oceania traffic.

On the flipside, for Kenya Airways, which began its direct nonstop flights to New York, this would offer it clientele, based mainly on the fact that Mauritius is one of the World’s top tourist destination, feeding through its Nairobi hub.

“We have had purely commercial discussions with all these airlines with regards to code sharing, interline, cargo business as well as possibilities of these airlines taking some of our excess flight deck and cabin crew,” SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said a statement, adding that the airline seeks to explore mutually beneficial opportunities to expand the network.

On Tuesday, SAA signed a deal with Emirates to expand an existing codeshare agreement, in a rare bright spot for the cash-strapped airline. The state-owned carrier, which has not made a profit since 2011, and received its $350 million government handouts, said the deal would see the two airlines leverage each other’s route networks, cargo services and flight schedules to boost passenger flows.

“The expansion of our commercial relationship will further strengthen key focus areas of the implementation of our turnaround plan,” said SAA chief executive Vuyani Jarana.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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