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Dawit Lemma

Addis Ababa:


Straight out of Africa

Continuing his series of articles on business aviation in Africa, Dawit Lemma, MD and Founder of Krimson Aviation, reveals what he’s learned from working through the pandemic.



Pandemic Lessons

As the world begins to emerge from the lockdown we have been reviewing our contribution to the COVID19 operations. Interestingly our movements in Addis Ababa have not dropped significantly, however the motivations for flying have been different.

There have been less business and intra-governmental flights - the presence of the African Union in Addis Ababa drives many of these - we have been supporting more medevac (predominantly for patients suffering from non-COVID medical conditions) cargo and diplomatic flights, as well as technical and crew rest stops all of which have been allowed to continue. In fact, repatriation flights currently represent most of our movements.

These have been stimulated by the presence of a large number of ex-pats living in Addis, again the African Union contributes to this. Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is also one of the few airports in Africa where commercial flights have been operating continuously, our national carrier Ethiopian Airlines continued to fly to 30 destinations supporting emergency cargo, and the return of families to their loved ones. We are proud to have played our part in this too.

Dawit Lemma oversees an aircraft turn around.

Dawit Lemma oversees an aircraft turn around.

The experience has highlighted to Krimson the value that the combination of commercial and business aviation flights delivers to the continent. The business aviation flights, often on smaller aircraft carrying passengers from difficult to access locations, fly into Addis, here they are met by ground handling and trip planners who guide crew to rest, and passengers to commercial repatriation flights. Its interlining at its most effective.

We’ve also learned that we are a hugely adaptable team. Not all landing permits and administrative paperwork in general is created equal across the continent. What is acceptable one day in one nation, may change another day in the same country. Add to this the evolving COVID-19 situation and you can imagine the complexity of handling what is essentially a simple flight.

Practical logistics became much more complicated. As a corollary, other nations have stepped up and implemented online processes which we anticipate will remain in place as we move to the other side of the pandemic. We have extensive local, cultural knowledge and understand how to make things happen in Africa, but this has truly tested us to our limits. At no point did my team give up and were happy to sacrifice peaceful sleep for chaotic airport scenarios.

We have also forged relationships with many new contacts at significant destinations around the globe. Just like us, they were trying to manage a constantly changing situation, we did this better when we co-operated not competed. Just as the globe was united by the pandemic, so our industry pulled together to support each other.

Krimson team coordinating flights

Krimson team coordinating flights

With our extended network, strengthened ability to think on our feet, diverse flight management experience, and improved knowledge of cargo, diplomatic and repatriation flights, as well as an enhanced ability to seamlessly interline commercial and business aviation, we are even better positioned to support the industry as the world begins to fly again. We anticipate that the principal business hubs will be the first to see the return of international executives, and potentially many more of them optimising the benefits of business aviation.

Ironically the pandemic may be responsible for raising the profile of business aviation in Africa where it is still perceived to be the domain of the fat cats, dogmatic dictators and corrupt officials. We’ve been able to provide vital support and I hope that as we return our changed world, its value will be better understood.

Zoom-like technology may replace travel for now, but we’ve learned from the pandemic lockdown it is a human need to be with other humans. As passenger confidence is restored and new standard operating procedures are introduced we look forward to supporting our existing and new clients, and ensuring they have the freedom to fly once more.





















"We have forged relationships with many new contacts at significant destinations around the globe.

"Just like us, they were trying to manage a constantly changing situation, we did this better when we co-operated not competed."












































































































BlueSky Business Aviation News | 11th June 2020 | Issue #561



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