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  • . . . as Zaire looks for new carrier

. . . as Zaire looks for new carrier

ZAIRE IS SETTING up a new national carrier in which Belgian airline Sabena has agreed to take a 49.5% stake.

The Zaire Government will hold the majority 50.5% of shares, in what is being called "new" Air Zaire. South African and Swiss money is also understood to be behind the starting capital of BFr100 million ($3 million).

The airline has no connection with the original Air Zaire, which was declared bankrupt in 1995 after racking up BFr1 billion in unpaid debts, largely on the route to Brussels. Sabena was a creditor.

The new airline will start operations from Kinshasa in February, initially operating services to Brussels and to Johannesburg using either an Airbus A310 or Boeing 767 on wet lease.

Senegal is also reported to be planning a start-up carrier to serve regional routes within West Africa. The project, which was instigated by a Sengalese Government advisor, apparently has the backing of surrounding states, Benin, Ivory Coast, Niger and Togao. The plan is for a regional operation, based in Dakar, to take to the air in as little as six months.