Monday, August 26, 2013

■ BURKINA FASO: Ouagadougou calls for talks with AKFED over Air Burkina's future.

Air BurkinaThe Government of Burkina Faso, in its most recent Council of Ministers meeting held in late July, has resolved to hold talks with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) &  Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), the majority shareholder in Air Burkina (2J), regarding its future.

According to the Burkinabe Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport, the move is being made in light of a recent report presented to government outlining the current state of Air Burkina SA, which claims it "faces a difficult financial and economic situation."

Air Burkina was founded in 1967 by the Burkina Faso government and Air France (AF), and operated under the name Air Volta. In 2001 the company was privatised when government transferred 56% of the shares to the AKFED / IPS consortium. The aim of AKFED's Aviation Services division's investment was to assist Burkina Faso in creating and maintaining critical aviation infrastructure in support of economic development. The APA Newswire reports that thus far, the tie up had proven fruitful with turnover rising from XFA4.8billion (USD9.98million) prior to privatisation, to XFA15billion post though alleged subsequent "financial difficulties", likely brought on by the recent war in neighbouring Mali, are said to have taken their toll.

There is also the aspect of increased pressure from regional and international carriers all of which are vying for a piece of the lucrative West African travel market. Part of Air Burkina's newly appointed Managing Director, Mr Abderahamane Berthé's responsibilities include overseeing the airline's response to increased competition on its regional routes from recent arrivals Tunisair (TU) and Turkish Airlines(TK).

Should talks prove unfruitful with AKFED, Ouagadougou is reportedly considering either the creation of a new state airline or finding a new investor.

AKFED currently has shareholdings in Air Burkina (2J), Air Uganda (U7) and Air Mali (I5). However, owing to the recent civil strife in the country, Air Mali has been forced to suspend operations pending a more stable political and economic climate.