Al-Ahram Weekly Online   11 - 17 August 2011
Issue No. 1060
Sky High
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

A patriot at the controls

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Lotfi Mustafa Kamal

The new aviation minister made his first appearance in the media last week. Meeting revolutionary ambitions and maintaining the industry as efficiently as possible, writes Amirah Ibrahim, are his top priorities.

It was three weeks since Lotfi Mustafa Kamal took over his new post as Aviation Minister before he met with Egyptian media, more to listen than lecture. "The prime minster, Dr Essam Sharaf, has focussed his assignment to the new cabinet members on two priorities; to meet the demands of the 25 January revolution and to maintain and protect the main pillars of the Egyptian state," Kamal stated in his first press conference.

Kamal has spent his lifetime career as an Air Force officer. He joined the Air Force Academy in 1970 and graduated in 1972. " I made the choice in favour of military study though I had many other civil possibilities. But at that time I shared that feelings and strong desire of thousands who believed in giving their souls to liberate the occupied Sinai."

As such Kamal was lucky to obtain the honour to fight in the 1973 October War against Israel. "The taste of victory is incomparable. I still feel its glorious flavour."

As a minister Kamal insists he is the same patriot, though he was not allowed the luxury to make the choice himself. "I have been assigned to carry out certain responsibilities. I would not refuse though my family did not welcome the post because of the political crisis," Kamal added.

Kamal spends his work hours touring the different sites of the industry within his department. He had several extensive meetings with employees of affiliated companies that mainly control the air transport business in Egypt. Under his department, the Aviation Ministry supervises two main holding companies owned by the government; the first runs airport business and the second runs air traffic business.

The holding company for airports and air navigation runs four affiliated companies: Air Navigation, Cairo Airport, Egyptian Airports (which supervises all Egyptian airports except Cairo International) and Aviation Information.

The holding company EgyptAir is the flag carrier and it operates nine affiliated companies covering all business fields. EgyptAir has two airlines, one for domestic flights and the other for international flights, beside a freight airline. It has three affiliated branches providing services to sister airlines as well as other Arab, European and private airlines: ground services, in-flight services and technical services companies. The corporation, which is almost 80 years old, has grown to include its own hospital and medical care centre, a tourism and duty-free branch spreading its outlets in the main regional airports and components industries branch. Under Kamal's supervision also come the aviation authority and accidents analysing department.

According to Kamal, he was assigned as a board member at a number of the affiliated companies while serving as a military officer. "It is true I still need time to shape and illustrate a complete and accurate vision and set a plan to handle the current problematic situation. Yet, through my limited experience attending the board meetings of many of these companies, I'll be keen to maintain our successful record."

So far, Kamal is not worried about his success in the tough mission. He does not make a lot of promises, but he appears to have the self-confidence required to give him success. "I ll do my best to give this country what it deserves. If I succeed, I'll be a lucky man. If not, I'll not regret because deep in my heart, I know I would not have done it on purpose."

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