Cameroon flag carrier halts west Africa flights

Wednesday October 23 2019

A Cameroon Airlines plane. The national carrier

A Cameroon Airlines plane. The national carrier has halted flights to west Africa destinations amid financial and managerial difficulties. PHOTO | NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDI EUGENE NDI
By NDI EUGENE NDI
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Cameroon's state airline Camair-co has suspended West African flights in its struggles to stay afloat.

According to Top Business, a Cameroon publication, the company recalled its staff from Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Lagos in Nigeria and Cotonou in Benin.

The report said Camair-co General Manager Louis Georges Njipendi Kuotu officially recalled the staff a week ago on October 16.

The company's spokesman had not responded to our request for comments.

The decision by top management to recall personnel and suspend the routes was attributed to dimming financial prospects for the carrier dubbed "The Star of Cameroon.”

The airline has grappled with financial and managerial crisis since it began operations in March 2011 with the state injecting $64 million.

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It acquired one Bombardier aircraft last year, bringing its fleet to six, but some of its aircraft is grounded for varying reasons.

The carrier inherited one Boeing B767-300 from Camair and bought two Boeing B737s and two Chinese-made MA60 planes at launch.

Pet project

In May President Paul Biya fired former General Manager of the company, Ernest Dikoum and his deputy Moussa Habouba.

A former regional director of Emirates Airlines for Senegal and Guinea, Mr Dikoum had been at the helm of the national carrier for just 33 months (since August 2016).
He was replaced by Louis Georges Njipendi Kuotu, former chairman of the Board of Directors of the Airlines Corporation while Max Constant Mve Minsi, a former director of maintenance in the firm, was appointed Deputy General Manager.

President Biya also appointed current Transport Minister, Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe as chairman of Camair-Co's Board.
Because of the small fleet, the company has been uncompetitive with flight cancellations endemic.
An audit by Boeing Consulting revealed that Camair-co recorded a deficit of FCFA 35 billion ($60 million) between 2012 and 2014.

The audit showed FCFA 20 billion ($34.2 million) was owed by state enterprises.

Boeing recommended a government bailout and cash injection of $101 million in addition to fleet expansion.
Camair-Co rose from the ashes of the defunct Cameroon Airlines (Camair) in 2006 as one of President Biya's pet projects.

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