Wednesday, May 8, 2013

■ CONGO (KINSHASA): Brussels Airlines boss reaffirms company's commitment to Korongo.

Korongo AirlinesDuring a recent visit to the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, Bernard Gustin, the CEO of Belgian airline, SN Brussels Airlines (SN), reaffirmed his company's commitment to its Congolese venture, Korongo (ZC), in which it owns a 34.65% stake.

Korongo 737
Korongo Airlines B737-300 (Pixstel)
In a meeting with Congolese Prime Minister, Mr Augustin Matata Ponyo, Mr Gustin said that Brussels Airlines had invested heavily in the Congolese market as seen by the carrier's recent increase in weekly frequencies, to seven. 
"We discussed our upgraded cabin which is a new product of the highest standards and we also discussed the draft future of Korongo. We are one of the shareholders in Korongo and it is a project that is very close to our hearts. We, thus, wanted to meet the Prime Minister to express this concern verbally," he said, responding to questions from the press.

There had been some speculation on the internet and in the media in recent months as to the future of Korongo given the sale of its sole BAe 146-200, (MSN 2196 | ex-OO-DJJ), to an American firefighting outfit, Neptune Aviation Services. This has since left the Lubumbashi-based airline with a sole B737-300 to operate its network which includes domestic flights to Kinshasa, Mbuji-Mayi and Johannesburg.

Other plans for new domestic routes to Goma, Kolwezi and Kisangani have been put on hold indefinitely.

Korongo is 70% owned by Airbel, a Belgian holding company, which in turn is owned by Brussels Airlines (49.5 percent) and Forrest Group (50.5 percent), a Congolese group of companies active in the Congo's civil engineering and mining sectors. The remaining 30 percent in Korongo Airlines is owned by local Congolese investors.