Tuesday, September 10, 2013

■ BURUNDI: Air Burundi signs MRO contract with Air Zimbabwe for its MA60 as China promises support.

Air Burundi logo A recent report by the Burundian Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Machinery states that Air Burundi (8Y) has indeed signed an MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) contract with Air Zimbabwe (UM) for its single aircraft, an MA-60 (MCN 1019 | 9U-BHU), with two Zimbabwean pilots and two dispatchers having also been hired. Air Zimbabwe operates three of the type.

Air Burundi's MA60 (AVIC)
The moves form part of Bujumbura's plans to see its national carrier resume operations. Air Burundi has been grounded since 2009 when maintenance costs for its then sole aircraft, a Beechcraft 1900, proved too dear, forcing the carrier to suspend flights. Since then, an interdepartmental committee has been established to help ascertain and solve all problems currently impeding the successful relaunch of Air Burundi which in recent months, has also suffered from board room troubles.

The Burundian government has also alluded to various other initiatives and developments that have been undertaken which include the tendering for an insurer for the aircraft, currently in its third round, as well as the signing of a contract for a new central reservations system

The hunt for a new General Sales Agent-GSDA is also ongoing.

Of particular note is news that a Chinese delegation led by the Vice-Minister of Trade, Zhong Shan, is scheduled to visit the country during this month (the Burundian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not divulged the exact dates) to sign  various agreements valued at over USD100million linked to infrastructure, fibre optic networking and the national airline, Air Burundi.

China's Ambassador to Burundi, Yu Xuzhong,  said China "promises" to become more involved in the Burundian national carrier in order for it to resume operations but did not expand on the terms of the involvement.

The feasibility study for the construction of a planned new terminal at Bujumbura International Airport, also funded by China, is also expected to be discussed.

Bujumbura also has its eyes set on developing a large new international airport, Bugendana International Airport in the province of Gitega.