It doesn’t rain but pours for Democratic Republic of Congo carrier Korongo Airlines. Shortly after relaunching operations in the country following a voluntarily closure of its domestic flight operations after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) declared all navigational aids for domestic airports as in default and non-compliant, it discovered at late notice that the local Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was to begin a 20 week runway renovation project at its Lubumbashi Luano Airport base this week.
“We are a compliant airline operating in a non-compliant environment, which makes life very tough at this time,” Christophe Allard, chief executive officer, Korongo Airlines told The HUB during an exclusive interview at the recent Routes Africa forum in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The major runway works at Luano Airport involves renovation work on the centre section of the landing strip and will restrict operations of all but small turboprop aircraft during the three days a week the work will take place over this 20 week period. This commenced from July 1, 2014 and will see work taking place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until October 1, 2014.
“It has certainly been a challenging time to run an airline in the country over recent weeks and we will have had to look for alternatives and to reposition our aircraft into Kinshasha,” explained Allard. However, he plans to use these operating restrictions “as a leverage to authorities” to get more traffic rights out of Kinshasha.
You find out more about the challenges of operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo in our full video interview with Christophe Allard, below, in which he also highlights the carrier’s strategy to develop more regional partnerships across Africa and the possible need to find a new flight operations partner as it seeks to expand its Boeing 737 fleet to three aircraft. He also highlights why the Boeing 737 is the right aircraft for the market and a plan to add a turboprop type to fly on domestic routes from Lubumbashi.
Christophe Allard, Chief Executive Officer, Korongo Airlines