|Exclusive Interview with the CEO of Congo's ECAir.|
By Louise Osborne ~ Weekly Exclusive - Global Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 2nd December 2013
Exclusive Feature: Two years ago, the Republic of Congo’s airline ECAir first began short-haul flights within the country;
Since then, it has launched a flight to Paris and plans to start flying to destinations within West Africa and even further afield to Dubai.
Fatima Beyina-Moussa (Below), chief executive officer for ECAir, speaks exclusively to 4Hoteliers.com about the future of the airline.
1. What challenges have you faced in setting up an airline in Congo?
Establishing an airline anywhere is a challenge, but particularly here. After building a modern, big airport in Brazzaville, we thought, it’s not enough.
You also need to have a modern, state-of-the-art airline that will create traffic inside the airport, otherwise, it wouldn’t have been worth it. To have that traffic, you need an airline that’s able to take people from short-haul destinations to Brazzaville and then they can connect and take long-haul flights, so that was really the purpose of creating this airline.
There’s a lack of airport infrastructure in Central and West Africa in general, so we wanted to establish ourselves as the next destination to create a hub in Africa.
2. How has the airline grown in the last two years?
It’s grown beautifully. We started with domestic flights between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, as the economic capital, so we did that for a year with daily connections between the two cities.
After that, since August 2012, we started with flights to Paris. We were surprised it was a success.
At first people didn’t know us, but then they came to discover us and what they discovered is, yes, we’re Congolese, we’re African, but that we’re trying to establish an international airline that’s state-of-the-art and works according to international standards.
We have partnerships with PrivatAir, a Swiss company, and our maintenance is done by Lufthansa Technik.
3. Have you faced scepticism in Europe?
Yes, especially because airport security and all of that is still a challenge in Congo.
We have faced scepticism, but when people see the partners with whom we are working, it helps us face this scepticism.
4. Is building up tourism in Congo an important aim for you?
It’s not us as an airline building up the tourism industry in Congo, but we can help.
We can bring people (here) and then the tourism industry can organise itself to have hotels, restaurants, car companies and everything that goes with that.
We think that if it’s easy to come to Congo with our airline, then it will be easy for the tourism industry to get clients for their resorts and hotels. The country is modernising and it can play a central role in Central Africa.
5. What are your aims for the future of ECAir?
In 2014, we intend to have a direct flight from Brazzaville to Dubai and then it will be three flights per week. Then we’ll open to other capitals in Central and West Africa.
After that, we want to grow even bigger and open (ourselves) up to many more destinations.
Photo courtesy of ECAir.
This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com