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                               Eritrean Airline’s moment of challenge

Tedros Abraham, Aug 25, 2006 Mail this article

Print in plain-text Two weeks back, I met a friend of mine, just on his arrival from Jeddah. He told me, he was not pleased with the flight as he used to, for he spent a dozen hours waiting at the Jeddah airport for the Queen Bee to pick him up. Indeed, for many Eritrean Airline passengers it was really a moment of discomfort.

Ever since it came into being, it is only in the last few weeks that Eritrean Airline (Queen Bee) faced such a series of problems. Flights were cancelled and luggages were missing. But what caused these problems?
“We are disappointed with our recent week’s technical problems.” Said Mr. Kubrom Dafla, Chief Executive of Eritrean Airlines. Despite the effort they have made to stabilize the situation, passengers were complaining. Why did the four years old Airline faced such problems? A question many were asking.
As Mr. Kubrom indicates, the problem originated when the Queen Bee was sent for technical assessment before the summer. However, they were told the repairing would take longer time than expected. “So in the transitional period, the only way out was using chartered planes.” he stated. They have been using different rental planes on short term basis.

It became challenging when the owners of the rented plane, who used to give them hopes of continuation, all of a sudden decided to stop. “We could not get immediate replacement as planes are busy in the summer holidays.” said Mr. Kuflom Dafla. For this reason four flights were cancelled. Consequently this cancellation brought a chain of problems to passengers.
Eritrean Airline has weekly flights to Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam and Rome. The interruption occurred for the first time in the 3rd of August 2006 in Amsterdam, and continued for a week. Those who were coming from the United States and Canada were unhappier during this period of termination. They come to Frankfurt assuming Eritrean Airline will be there to take them home. Unfortunately, they were obliged to spend some more idle days.

Had they been told about the situation in advance, they would have postponed their departure to Frankfurt to escape from unwanted expenses and inconvenience. Why the Airline has failed to do this? Mr. Kubrom indicates that, the flight cancellation was also aggravated by coincidence. Technical problem was created in the Telecommunication Reservation System, and this is out of Eritrean Airline control. This is a worldwide communication system via computers. So to make matters worse, all the passengers’ personal information was recorded in this computer. “Once we lost this, we lost every thing for it was our upper hand.” he added.

Had this system been properly functioning, what could have been simplified? Mr. Kubrom stresses that they could have told the passengers to stay at home, until they get a substitute plane. This failure not only brought difficulties to the passengers, but also made the Airline spend substantial expenses for the passenger’s hotel services.
Mr. Kubrom accepts all the constructive criticisms, but rejects the accusations that the Airline had done nothing to solve the problem. “Our staff endeavored day and night. However, that might not have met the expectation of our customers.” he said.

Queen Bee has now come from maintenance, and it is about to start its flights with in two or three days. “We have learned a lesson from the last incident. Timely and effective preventive measures will be taken for such things not to happen again.” he concluded.