Cameroon national carrier acquires additional aircraft

Wednesday May 30 2018

Cameroonian Transport minister Jean Ernest

Cameroonian Transport minister Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe stepping out of national carrier Camair-Co's newly-acquired Bombardier Dash8-Q400 aircraft in Yaoundé on May 29, 2018. NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Cameroon's national airline company Camair-Co has acquired one more aircraft, raising its fleet to six as the ailing flag carrier struggles to remain airborne.

The used Canadian-made 78-seat Bombardier Dash8-Q400 aircraft, acquired by leasing from Abu Dhabi Aviation, was commissioned on Tuesday by Transport minister Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe. The aircraft proceeded to make an inaugural flight from Yaoundé to the economic capital Douala, and back.

During the launch at the Yaounde-Nsimalen Airport, Mr Bibehe called on Camair-Co’s management to make the state corporation profitable and self-sustaining soonest.

Before the acquisition of the first-ever Bombardier aircraft in the Camair-Co’s fleet, the state-owned airline had only the aged Boeing B767-300, which it inherited from Camair, two Boeing B737 and two small Chinese-made MA60 planes since it launched operations in March 2011, thanks to a $64 million cash infusion from the state.

Business strategy

With the latest acquisition, which is in line with a proposed business strategy by American firm Boeing Consulting, the national carrier which already flies 13 destinations in and outside the country, was ready to launch more routes, including Bamako, Brazzaville and Lagos.

Besides a government bailout and cash injection of $101 million into Camair-Co’s operations, the Boeing Consulting restructuring also recommended an increase in the fleet of the airline.

The reform, which President Paul Biya approved in July 2016, is said to have started yielding fruits as Camair-Co transported an unprecedented 235,686 passengers last year.

Camair-Co, which was created by the long-serving President Biya in 2006 from the defunct Cameroon Airlines (Camair), took off in 2011, reviving hope for a more reliable national carrier. Seven years later, Cameroonians say the dream was still an illusion as it has since been grappling with financial and managerial crises.