MIAMI – Thirteen years after Air Burundi (8Y) stopped operations, the country’s new flag carrier Burundi Airlines will take its place. The new airline was officially established on February 4, 2021.

The new national carrier is based at Bujumbura-Melchior Ndadaye Airport (BJM) and is the result of a merger between Air Burundi and the public port of call management company: Burundian Company for Warehouse Management and Aircraft Assistance in Escale- SOBUGEA).

As announced last December, the state will control 92% of the new national company, while the Insurance Company of Burundi (SOCABU) will hold 4% of the shares, as will the succession of the former Belgian carrier Sabena.

According to Iwacu, the Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism of Burundi, said the merge is between two heritage: the heritage of Air Burundi and that of SOBUGEA. This was after the general assembly of shareholders. The merge comes after a long process of auditing carried out since 2017 and validated in 2018.

The New Burundi Airlines

The new Burundi Airlines is estimated at a total capital of more than 15 billion Burundian francs ( €6.34mi). However, no aircraft has been purchased yet. The first flight is not expected any time soon either, and the process of starting operation is going to take time and money. On the side of jobs, the staff at SOBUGEA and Air Burundi shall remain in place but will have to sign new contracts.

As reported by Air Journal, Bujumbura Airport (BJM) only hosts Brussels Airlines (SN), Ethiopian Airlines (ET), Kenya Airways (KQ) and RwandAir (WB) aircraft. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the health crisis, BJM was frequented by South African Airways (SA), Air Tanzania (TC) and Uganda Airlines (UR).

Air Burundi, which was launched in June 1975, had operated flights to Uganda and Rwanda, including Caravelle. It had to stop operations in September 2009 and its only aircraft (a Beechcraft1900), could not pass maintenance operations.

In the absence of a credible legal framework, all the buyback intentions had failed. These were by Agha Khan fund, the Celestair Group or by Chinese investors. The company had received a Xian MA-60 given by China in 2013 but the aircraft was never certified.

Featured image: Air Burundi Xian MA-60 at Kunming – Wujiaba (1). Photo: Xu Zheng, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wiki Commons