Air Burkina eyes regional expansion

Ouagadougou-based Air Burkina has just completed a fleet upgrade and is preparing to strengthen its network as the government begins to study options for re-privatising the airline. Victoria Moores reports.

Air Burkina, which was originally known as Air Volta, has been operating continuously since 1967. “We have never stopped,” said Air Burkina director of management control and internal audit, Youssouf Zongo.

A lot has changed since Zongo joined Air Burkina in February 1992.

The airline was privatised in 2001, when the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and IPS(WA) consortium came on board as a shareholder alongside the Burkina Faso Government. However, the airline was returned to state ownership in May 2017.

Zongo said the government is now looking to re-privatise. “Studies are in progress,” he said. The airline will be privatised once the analysis is complete, with further news expected during 2019. “There’s no deadline, but the objective is there,” he said.

In the meantime, Air Burkina has been refreshing its fleet. Since November, the airline has taken delivery of two Embraer E195s and one E175, leased from regional aircraft specialist Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC).

The Embraers replaced a wet-leased Bombardier CRJ900, which has since been returned, and an Embraer 170 that is now undergoing engine maintenance. Air Burkina hopes to buy the E170 from AKFED.

The airline plans to use the additional capacity to increase frequencies on its existing routes, which comprise Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Accra (Ghana), Bamako (Mali), Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Lomé (Togo) and Niamey (Niger).

Zongo said the airline is also looking to add new destinations in central and western Africa from the second half of 2019. Specifically, Air Burkina is planning to add flights to Abuja (Nigeria), Conakry (Guinea), Libreville (Gabon) and Pointe-Noire (Republic of the Congo).

By 2022-23, the five-year leases on the new Embraers will be coming to an end. Around that time, Zongo said, Air Burkina plans to be operating five to six aircraft.

“We want to consolidate and establish the financial situation for the company as our first objective,” he added.

He stressed that Air Burkina plays an important role for the development of Burkina Faso, especially given its geographical location as a landlocked country.

The carrier’s priority is opening up Burkina Faso to the rest of the world, transporting people and goods to boost the national economy. (africanaerospace, photo Air Burkina: wikiwand)

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