Aviation's good, bad, ugly

HARARE - Welcome all; to this fresh, independent and informative weekly column that will closely pursue, and truthfully decipher the latest happenings of the endlessly-exciting, cut-throat aviation industry; helping to simplify complex aviation jargon into bite-size chunks.

Our most-privileged insider-knowledge, at home and abroad, is unbeatable; and comparable to witnessing an action-packed Mayweather/Pacquiao slugout from an exclusive, front-row seat; where you observe all the action, becoming much-better informed. Lately, much has been happening, even in the minuscule (comparing us to the rest of the world) Zimbabwean air “industry”.

The recent Big African Airshow, splendidly arranged by businessman/aviator Isaac Levy and company, jolted and energised our usually sleepy airspace.

To illuminate the true perspective of our pitiful, insignificant size; the whole of African aviation stakes a miniature 2 percent claim only, of the vast, multi billion-dollar global flying business, according to global aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

African Aviator shall extensively interrogate our beloved one-and-only Air Zimbabwe. Quite often, the good, the bad and the ugly at Air Zimbabwe dominates the news

This column does not make the news, but only puts it out there; exactly as it is! We shall fuel the long-running question; does Zimbabwe really need the ever-faltering Air Zimbabwe? You dear reader, will dutifully answer that emotive question in the course of time.

Much will be considered over the ensuing months; the damaging pull-out from Zimbabwe by dozens of international airlines; the recent now-you-see-me and now-you-don’t, re-appearance and re-disappearance of comeback-kids Egyptair and Dutch airline, KLM. Maker or killer of local aviation, regulator Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ); the airlines operating into, and out of Zimbabwe; African giants South African and Ethiopian, as well as other rising operators like Air Namibia, TAAG Angolan, Kenya Airways etc; all constitute worthy news makers. British Airways (operated by Comair), is said to be the only African airline to persistently post a cash surplus each financial year. Yes please, let’s discover together their unfailing formula and relay it to our sorry, Air Zim friends.

The recent proud entry of ambitious FlyAfrica.com, who threatened hugely expectant, long-abused air travellers with “low” airfares that, to be honest, were just a little “lower” airfares, has triggered debate.

Therefore, FlyAfrica, if not desirous to mislead, should truthfully advertise, merely as a “lower-airfare” airline (charging a few dollars less than established competitors) and not cleverly pose as a bonafide, no-frills, low-cost airline in the mould of the legendary Ryanair, run by mercurial aviator, Irishman Michael O’Leary.

Of course, easyJet, founded in 1995 by famed Greek-British entrepreneur, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is the genuine, trendsetting and real, low-cost airline. These two’s successful template has many unschooled pretenders worldwide.

This column will also provide a little re-education to readers and uninformed (through no fault of theirs) writers alike who struggle with the difference between, say airline and airliner, which two words mean completely different things! Local sports journos sometimes get their knickers in a twist over what jet lag was. If a certain soccer player flies in from South Africa or even the UK for a Warriors game, and subsequently performed poorly, the smart scribe would relate that poor show to cruel “jet leg”! Yet, jet lag has nothing to do with a natural leg! The African Aviator will fish-out the presently secretive star pilots and engineers, and profile them for the “members of the public” to know and be inspired by their aviation heroes. (Surely there’s no question that a man - and increasingly too, a woman- that manipulates a complex gravity-defying craft many thousands of feet above the ground and brings it down safely, with barely a thud, is a remarkable being!)

We still have to figure out why such a desired person is paid, relatively, a pittance, compared to an unsophisticated, tantrum-throwing and in most cases, a barely-schooled lad that kicks an inflated cow hide into a net! (Yes, picture one egoistic Ronaldo, or man-eating Suarez, or the unsmiling, unscoring and bench-warming Balotelli, each undeservingly earning millions per year!)

Occasionally, this simple column will interrogate the hallowed territory of aviation policy and the routine, political theatrics thereof. A toe or two may be stepped on, but what’s that to an important, overpaid big boy or girl! They may sulk for a bit, but shall be encouraged to speedily get over it!

The column cannot wait to learn more about, and profile in detail, the behemoths of African aviation; Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Kenya Airways and a little study of our very own (loved and despised in the same measure) Air Zimbabwe, the Government-owned airline that provokes much emotion, especially generated by hordes of disenchanted travellers. Can also not wait, one good day, to profile the very best airlines in the world; Qantas, Emirates, British Airways etc; and that adventure-nutter, Richard Branson’s outlandishly christened Virgin!

As the world celebrates 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, I am reminded that the lads be extra-nice to the previously much-trodden ladies.

Therefore, African Aviator will respectfully run a special series profiling exceptional aviator women; Captain Debbie Carter (anybody know where she is?), Captain Emilia Njovani, Captain Chipo Matimba.

Of course, the exceptional male pilots too, Captains Joe Muparuri, Mekias Munyaradzi, Simon Moyo (told has quit flying for farming somewhere near Plumtree) Harry Madangure, Khanyisa Moyo, one Michael Enslin, the peculiar white pilot who earned a 2014 Zimbabwean military medal for extraordinary bravery. There are many such fantastic boys and girls.

One happy fact is guaranteed, each one has an enchanting life story to tell - and we will tell it like it is.

A follower of this column is respectfully christened, “aviator”. So long aviators!

*Maguire (africa.aviator@gmail.com) is a trained pilot; who enthusiastically scans the global aviation industry.

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