Initially published on 17 May 2017 in AfricanAerospace Magazine
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national carrier Congo Airways is progressing with its expansion plans and is seeking an equity investor, despite hitting challenges with its regional expansion. Victoria Moores reports.Kinshasa-based Congo Airways launched operations in October 2015, filling a gap left after the liquidation of Lignes Aériennes Congolaises (LAC) in September 2014.
The airline, which is directly and indirectly state-owned, started operations with two ex-Alitalia Airbus A320s manufactured in 2007 and 2008. These aircraft were initially deployed on domestic routes from Kinshasa to Goma, Lubumbashi, Kindu and Kisangani within the DRC.
In May 2016, a pair of six-year-old ex-Air Nuigini Bombardier Q400s joined the fleet. They both entered service in June 2016, but within just a few days one of the two aircraft was struck by a third-party ground-handling vehicle overnight.
“It suffered very severe structural damage, right next to the cockpit,” Congo Airways deputy CEO, Jerome Maillet, said, speaking at Aviation Africa in Kigali, Rwanda. He added that the incident was totally beyond the airline’s control. “It took four-and-a-half months to get it back and close to $1 million to repair.”
Despite the setback, Congo Airways exceeded its targets for 2016 and now serves 10 domestic destinations, after adding – in sequential order – Kananga, Mbuji Mayi, Mbandaka, Bunia and Kalemie. At the time of going to print, Congo Airways was about to launch services to Gemena and Bukavu.
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