Thursday, August 2, 2012

► MALI: Air Mali struggling as civil unrest severely disrupts operations.

Air MaliCelestair Group's Air Mali (I5) has been forced to suspend a number of its flights as a result of the ongoing civil unrest in the Maghreb country, which has been raging since January 2012 and has seen the near partition of the country into two regions: the more conservative Islamic partition of Azawad in the north and Mali itself in the south.

On-line newspaper reports state that the Malian airline has withdrawn its three McDonnell Douglas MD-87s from regular service and is instead relying on the use of its sole Canadair CRJ-200 to ply flights from Bamako to Conakry (Guinea), Accra (Ghana) and Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire).
Air Mali's Africa Network [Click to Enlarge]
Air Mali's Previous Network
"Thus the company's losses are estimated to be CFA540million (€79million). This represents nearly half of its turnover. To try to save Air Mali, its managing director Abderrahmane Berthé came up with a rescue plan which resulted in the dismissal of numerous employees: 222 reduced to 199.  

The other strategy adopted by the airline was to change its flight schedule. Air Mali no longer serves more than three destinations from its hub in Bamako: Abidjan, Accra and Conakry. Fellow Celestair Group airline Air Burkina  now operates its flights to Dakar (Senegal), Cotonou (Benin) and Libreville (Gabon) on its behalf."

Fortunately for Air Mali, Air France has not cancelled its Paris - Bamako flights, on which Air Mali still maintains its code share,  a deal entitling it to an unspecified number of seats on the flights for sale under the Air Mali name; an agreement that could help the airline remain afloat in these very trying times.

Before the unrest, Air Mali operated a fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD87s, Bombardier CRJ 200s and Beech19s on its network that once spanned Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, Cotonou, Dakar, Libreville, Monrovia, Nouakchott,  and Timbuktu.