Friday, August 23, 2013

■ CONGO (KINSHASA): Government once more looking for a strategic partner in its planned national carrier.

DRCIts back to the drawing board for Kinshasa so far as finding a strategic partner for its renewed national carrier is concerned. Accordingly, the country's Minister of Transport, Mr Justin Kalumba, Congo has reissued a tender for interested parties & carriers which closes on August 31.

Air Zaïre's old route map
A Congolese government functionary, said to be close to Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, in a recent interview with the Ivorian press, said that several global carriers, among them Turkish Airlines (TK), Kenya Airways (KQ), Ethiopian Airlines (ET) and brussels airlines (SN) have all been approached regarding a stake in a new national carrier.

Of the four mentioned, only Belgian carrier, brussels airlines had shown an interest but required that any new airline would necessarily have to use partner Korongo Airlines' (ZC) facilities in both Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. It is to be recalled that predecessor Sabena (SN) had also entered into a partnership with the then-Zairean government to create a new airline to be called "New Air Zaïre" though this deal came to naught.

No mention was made regarding proposed talks between Kinshasa and Turkish Airlines in which Kinshasa had hoped a new carrier deal would be cut and dry in time for a June launch.

Ethiopian Airlines, having tentatively selected Kinshasa as its Central African hub to compliment its west African (Lomé) and southern African hubs (Lilongwe), could also be a strong contender given its strong intra-African presence and reputation.

Mr Kalumba said the aim of setting up a new national carrier to replace that of LAC Lignes Aériennes Congolaises (4V) was to help consolidate and help the beleaguered Congolese civil aviation sector to the leave the European Commission's Banned Operator's List.