Safety over Ethiopian Airspace: A war between Skyteam and Star Alliance?

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Is this a war between Skyteam and Star Alliance, initiated by Skyteam member Kenya Airways against Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines? Are the Skies over Ethiopia really safe for civil aviation?

Kenya Air Traffic Controllers’ Association has warned flight in and out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are not safe. In response, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority “fully and categorically rejects statements” circulated in a communiqué by Kenya Aviation Safety officials dated August 30.

Kenya Air Traffic Controller Association President Peter Ang’ awa had stated on August 30 the organization is deeply concerned with a number of serious safety issues they have noted in the past few days after their Ethiopian counterparts went on strike.

“Letters of agreement between Addis Ababa and Nairobi on coordination procedures are not being followed. Flights inbound to Nairobi from Addis Ababa are calling Nairobi Control without prior estimates, with the possibility of creating serious air-misses with known traffic at the transfer point,” Ang’awa said.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority “fully and categorically” rejected what they call “false and baseless statement”, by Kenya. They went on to say, the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) strike in Ethiopia was illegal.

Today the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority used Ethiopian Airlines PR to issued this statement:

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority would like to assure the wider public as well as airlines, national civil aviation authorities and international and regional bodies that following the illegal strike by ATCs in Ethiopia, the Area Control Center (ACC) in Addis Ababa is being manned by adequate number of well trained, highly capable instructors and professionals who are current for the positions with the necessary ratings and validation in accordance with ICAO Annex 1 provisions. Similarly, the approach and aerodrome positions are also manned with professionals possessing all the qualifications. The controllers that have come in for support or assistance following the illegal strike were all assigned with the necessary orientation and on the job training before they were released solo, per the standard practice.

With regard to the specific false statements and outright lies contained in the circular of the Kenyan Air Traffic Controllers Association, these can be easily verified as all ATC activities and communications are recorded and protected.

To date, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority has not received any complaint by any airline operating to/from Ethiopia or overflying the Ethiopian airspace. All airlines are operating their scheduled and unscheduled flights smoothly, including our national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which has the largest operations in Africa.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority will also like to inform the public that it is working in close collaboration with its good neighbor and partner, the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, on cross-border flight coordination.

The wider public, national civil aviation authorities, international and regional bodies and airlines should not be misled by the false statements of the Kenya Air Traffic Controllers Association, whose aim is to lend support to an illegal strike in Ethiopia. It is completely unacceptable and constitutes a clear lack of basic ethics and professionalism for the Kenyan Air Traffic Controllers to express solidarity with ATCs in Ethiopia that are illegally on strike by making false and misleading statements about the safety of Ethiopian airspace management.

The Kenya Air Traffic Controllers Association has acted in an irresponsible way and has caused damage to the reputation of the Ethiopian Civil Authority. If the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority does not take the necessary action on the Association per its own national laws, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority will take the issue to the concerned international body.

Lastly, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority wishes to seize this occasion to inform the public that some of Air Traffic Controllers, who were on strike, have already returned to their normal duties

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.