Sabena pursues share in proposed Zairean airline

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BELGIAN AIRLINE Sabena has confirmed its interest in taking a majority share in a new Zairean airline scheduled to take over from the defunct Air Zaire.

Sabena has sent a letter of intent to Kinshasa (Flight International, 20-26 September, P14).

The African Government had proposed that the Belgian airline take a 51% share in a new airline to be founded to restore air travel in Zaire, following the bankruptcy of Air Zaire on 12 June.

The airline left Bfr1.5 billion ($50 million) of unpaid bills, with Sabena as a major creditor.

The Belgian airline has a long-standing interest in domestic operations in Zaire since it was forced to abandon a lucrative network in 1960 when the then Belgian Congo became independent.

Sabena president Pierre Godfroid is known to have shown interest in domestic air travel in Zaire following a visit to the country in 1994.

Air transport was pioneered in Zaire by Sabena, as far back as 1925, when that country was a Belgian colony. The network had to be abandoned when independence came in 1960.