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New airline helps Africa reclaim its skies

posted 9 May 2012, 09:19 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 9 May 2012, 09:19 ]

Africa's aviation industry has been growing at around 4% per year, but the projected growth is unlikely to translate into profits for African airlines as the continental airspace is dominated by airlines from Europe, the US, Middle East and China.

AFRICA-AIRLINES - Flight attendants demonstrate the safety features on Fly Congo's first ever flight.

The new Congolese airline has risen from the ashes of Hewa Bora.


It was put on an EU blacklist after several fatal crashes, including one last year that killed 74 people.

Fly Congo has bought an entirely new fleet.


Pilot Bob Hyacinthe says it should help restore confidence in African airlines although there's still work to do at some airports.


BOB HYACINTHE, FLYCONGO PILOT SAYING:

"I think that the current infrastructure at many of the country's airport control towers is inadequate, but they are working on it so that we can have more reliable communication in the long run. That is one of our main difficulties."


Africa's airlines have long been dogged by stories of accidents and delays.


But Gedeon Mangolopa, director at Congo's airport in Goma, the says the launch signals a fresh start.

GEDEON MANGOLOPA, GOMA AIRPORT DIRECTOR SAYING:

"We estimate that the plan we are going to put forward will enable the airport here to once again operate to international standards. We ask people to respect the rules and believe that we are trying to implement international regulations."


Africa's aviation industry is worth an estimated 56 billion dollars - it's been growing at around 4 percent a year.


But that hasn't meant profits for African airlines - the airspace remains dominated by Europe, the US, the Middle East and China.


Linden Birns is an aviation analyst in Africa.

AVIATION ANALYST LINDEN BIRNS SAYING:

"The prospects of Africa in the next twenty years are good, we are looking at doubling the demand for the air transport in the next ten years and triple in the next 15 to 20 years, so that can only be good news. But the question is whether are we up to it in terms of skills, in terms of equipment, capitalization and all those other things."


One of the problems for African airlines are air traffic agreements which date back to the 1940s.

Not all country's signed them meaning there are limits on where airlines can fly.


But Air Congo hopes its debut internal flight from Kinshasa to Goma will help African airlines reach new heights.


It's planning a new route to South Africa later in the year.


Ciara Sutton, Reuters.

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