Monday, June 24, 2013

■ CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE): More woes for Air CEMAC as talks with partner Air France stall.

Air CEMACThe launch of Air CEMAC, the regional carrier aimed at linking Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and São Tomé & Príncipe together, is facing the prospect of further set backs following reports that negotiations with Air France (AF), the carrier's strategic partner, have progressed little since the collaboration was announced in July last year.

Air Cemac
An artist's impression of an Air
CEMAC A330 (PatrickAviation)
Pierre Moussa, the President of CEMAC, told a recent Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) that Air France had sought to acquire a 33% "blocking minority stake" in the carrier while at the same time demanding that Air CEMAC have a monopoly on future regional flights at the expense of CEMAC member states' own national carriers.

As a result of the impasse, the airline's launch, originally set for January of this year, has now been pushed back indefinitely, though other reports have speculated about a possible début later this year.

As pointed out by The African Aviation Tribune in past articles, Air CEMAC has suffered from numerous bureaucratic hurdles since its inception, albeit on paper, in 2000.

Having gone through three prior strategic partners, including Brussels Airlines (SN), Royal Air Maroc (AT) and South African Airways (SA), it has since emerged that its actual launch in 2010 (then in partnership with SAA but cancelled in February 2012 owing to "deep differences of opinion") was foiled by the Republic of Congo who objected to the airline's headquarters being moved from Brazzaville to the strategically more sound, Douala. 

Brazzaville has been one of the primary financial backers for the carrier though owing to the airline's lack of operations and heavy overheads, including the opening of a new headquarters and the employment of a board of directors, Air CEMAC is now facing a liquidity crisis as most of its original USD20million (XAF10billion) in start up capital is said to have been used.