Domestic Flights Return to the Comoros Islands

The arrival of a 19-seat Let L-410UVP-E20 will allow scheduled inter-island air services to once again resume in the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, according to local press reports.  Operations in the country have been severely impacted following the crash of an Inter Îles Air Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilia off the coast of Hahaya, Grande Comore in late November.

The Czech-built aircraft has been acquired by the Comorian Government to support its ambitions to establish a dedicated inter-island air service.  It was delivered on December 29, 2012 and is expected to be the first of a number of new aircraft to be operated by a new national carrier which will initially serve the archipelago but potentially grow into international markets.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the arrival of the aircraft in the islands the President of the Comoros, Ikililou Dhoinine, said: "I'm here because of the enormous difficulties our country has experienced concerning air transport; difficulties which have always been at the centre of our concerns. Our country needs several aircraft to permanently and safely transport [people] between islands, regional and international," according to African news resource The African Aviation Tribune.

Little is currently known about the plans of the start-up carrier although flights linking Anjouan and Moheli to Moroni are anticipated.  In the past a domestic network of scheduled services has been offered by a range of local companies including Comores Aviation and Ocean Airlines, both of which utilized Let L-410 equipment.

The Comoros is one of the smallest countries in the world and its island archipelago is situated in the Indian Ocean, in the Mozambique Channel, between the African coast (nearest to Mozambique and Tanzania) and Madagascar.  It is formed by the major islands of Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli), Nzwani (Anjouan), and Maore (Mayotte), as well as many minor islets. It is currently linked to Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, Reunion and Tanzania through the flights of African Express Airways, Air Austral, Air Madagascar, Kenya Airways, Precision Air and Yemenia.

This is not the first plan to establish a new state-controlled national entity in the country.  According to The African Aviation Tribune, a similar initiative, Comoro Islands Airline, was established by the previous Government in a partnership with Rubban Logistics of Kuwait.  The carrier launched flights in October 2008, initially providing Hajj charters to Jeddah in co-operation with Bahrain Air using an Airbus A320 but ahead of expected flight operations from the Comoros the jet was subsequently leased to Sudan Airways.

Source: The African Aviation Tribune

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