Thursday, February 14, 2013

► NIGER: Nigerien Government to form new national airline - Niger Airways - with Turkish Airlines as strategic partner.

NigerThe Nigerien Government has announced the formation of a new national carrier, Niger Airways, in which Turkish Airlines (TK) will be a strategic partner. Amongst the carrier's first priorities will be the operation of flights between Niamey and the country's secondary cities - Agadez, Arlit, Dosso and Zinder in particular - and regional capitals.

Niamey's Diori Hamani International Airport
Niamey's Diori Hamani International Airport
The decision to create the airline was arrived at during a Cabinet meeting held in Niamey under the chairmanship of Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou.

Speaking in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, Minister of Transport, Ibrahim Yacouba, said Niger Airways will be 51% owned by private/public Nigerien investors and the remaining 49% to be held by Turkish Airlines, who recently commenced flights to Niamey via Ouagadougou in December. 

Whilst Niger's neighbours namely Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Libya and Algeria have all forged ahead with plans to develop themselves into either regional or international aviation hubs, Niger has been relatively neglected in terms of infrastructural development, a deficiency Mr Yacouba pledged to address. Airports in Niamey, Agadez and Zinder are to be upgraded to "international standards" as Niger seeks to rebrand itself as an "attractive, value-for-money" tourist destination and transit point.
"We are creating the conditions necessary so that [airline] companies that operate here can do so in a conducive environment that will contribute to the economic development of Niger," said Minister Ibrahim Yacouba.
Source [Le Sahel]

The country's first national airline, Air Niger, formed in 1966 with the government of Niger holding 94.5% shareholding with assistance from Air France (AF) and UTA - Union des Transports Aériens (UT). Besides operating its predecessor, Aero Niger's, air taxi and charter operations, the new airline took over Air France's domestic services in Niger, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Nigeria and Chad. However, due to poor management and subsequent losses, the carrier ceased operations in 1985 before being dissolved in 1993.

Turkey's carriers have been very active in Africa forming partnerships with many country's that are struggling or have struggled to create reliable, viable national airlines. AtlasJet (KK) recently signed a deal with the South Sudanese government that will see the formation of a regional carrier in the near future.

Other unconfirmed rumours expect an announcement of a possible tie up in Senegal today (Thursday 14 February) as Turkish Airlines (TK) is set to sign an as-yet-undisclosed agreement with the Dakar Chamber of Commerce.