Equatorial Guinea's national airline, Ceiba Intercontinental, made its historic first intercontinental flight on October 4, 2012 from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to the Spanish capital Madrid. Ceiba International is servicing the route on a three times weekly basis with a newly acquired Boeing 777-200LR aircraft configured with 22 First Class, 28 Business Class and 200 Economy seats.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation of Equatorial Guinea purchased the aircraft as the first step in the government's efforts to meet the growing demand for air service to the country and support its growing economy. "Flying to Madrid from Malabo, on board an aircraft of this type and owned by Equatorial Guinea, is a dream come true," said Fausto Abeso Fuma, Delegate Minister of Aviation.
Upon his arrival in Spain on the inaugural flight, Agustin Nze Nfumu, Minister of Information, Press and Radio, said: "This flight demonstrates once again to the people of Equatorial Guinea that when President Obiang makes a promise, he fulfills it." He added the new route "is about opening ourselves to the world, and opening the doors of the world to Equatorial Guinea. It is also a great contribution, and pride, that the plane is ours, of Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guineans who start taking this flight will feel the satisfaction of being able to fly on a plane from our own country."
Ceiba International has initially scheduled three flights a week on the new Malabo - Madrid route and alongside the passenger traffic says it expects to transport about 150,000 kilos of cargo a year. Ceiba International currently offers scheduled service from Bata and Malabo in Equatorial Guinea to several cities in West and Central Africa, including Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Brazzaville, Congo; Douala, Cameroon; Libreville, Gabon; Cotonou, Benin; and Lome, Togo, but the Madrid route represents its debut in the long-haul market.
The Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial) is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country's oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. Equatorial Guinea is now working to serve as a pillar of stability and security in its region of West Central Africa and Iberia, Air France and Lufthansa all currently offer regular scheduled passenger service to Malabo from Europe.
Iberia launched flights between Madrid and Malabo in December 1992, but it was not until the end of the subsequent year that it introduced regular flights. The route was also served by Spanair between December 1997 and September 2008 and Air Europa between August 2009 and October 2011. In 2011, an estimated 21,000 O&D passengers travelled on the route, while demand during the first six months of 2012 was approximately 12,000, up 29.1 per cent on the same period last year.