by Mildred Europa Taylor, at 10:32 am, April 12, 2018, Business

Through the turbulence, these collapsing African airlines are trying to fly high

Africa’s aviation sector has been going through major challenges that are preventing the continent from obtaining the major economic benefits.

Some of the biggest concerns over the years have been safety, security, access and industry costs.

Already, African countries, including Ghana, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia have all shut down their national airlines after they proved to be making losses years after independence.

But in the midst of all these struggles, some other national airlines have still managed to survive despite nearing collapse.

These national carriers are currently instituting measures to revive their operations. Here are some of them:

Air Tanzania

Air Tanzania

Last week, the country’s president received the third of six aircraft in a bid to revive its state-owned carrier, Air Tanzania. The aircraft, a Bombardier Q-400 was purchased by the government for $32 million from Canada’s Bombardier Aerospace.

Air Tanzania is also expecting three more aircraft in the form of jets – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and two Bombardier C300 series. The airline further hopes to pay its debts, provide start-up capital and modernize its business systems.

Air Tanzania was established as Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) on September in 1977 following the collapse of the regional East African Airways. But the airline has since been operating at a loss and depending on subsidies from the government.

Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways last month said it was planning to target high-level customers as part of moves to restore the fortunes of the company. The 40-year-old carrier almost collapsed last year as it had to complete a $2 billion financial restructuring in November that included a government bailout.

Kenya Airways, which is part-owned by Air France KLM, in 2016 had the biggest ever annual corporate loss of 26 billion shillings ($251 million) in its financial year. The company attributed this to a slump in travel and high financing costs after buying new planes.

The airline has since launched 15-hour direct daily flights to New York under the “$100 million project” with the hopes to raise revenue by 8-10 percent in the 2019 fiscal year. Over the years, Kenya Airways which is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest carrier by fleet after Ethiopian Airlines and South Africa Airways had wanted to fly direct to the United States. It only received clearance in February 2017 after the country refurbished its main airport in Nairobi.

Air Zimbabwe

Air Zimbabwe

Debt-ridden national career, Air Zimbabwe last month asked the government, its major shareholder to provide it with $190 million capital to revive the airline. The airline which is reeling under a $330m debt said it plans to procure three Brazilian assembled 50-seater Embraer jetliners suitable for domestic and short regional routes at a cost of $6 million.

This week, a newly-acquired passenger plane bearing the initials of the former president, Robert Mugabe arrived from Malaysia. The Boeing 777, with the registration code Z-RGM, touched down at Harare’s main Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on Wednesday.

The government has also paid $35 million for two Boeing 777s and plans to acquire six smaller aircraft. Air Zimbabwe is currently banned from flying to Europe because of safety concerns. The company is hoping to use $13 million to clear its longstanding debt with European Aviation Safety Agency to enable it to start servicing those European roots soon.

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