(eTN) – As the saying goes, better late than never applies here, when a regular Fly 540 source confirmed that the airline has now commenced domestic operations. Presently, a single ATR aircraft is being used to fly the route between Luanda and Cabinda as many as three times a day, and other routes are to follow soon afterwards just as soon as another two ATR aircraft are integrated into the fleet.
Operations were initially thought to start a long time ago, but as Angola is under scrutiny by ICAO and its national airline faces a qualified ban in flying to the European Union over a range of safety concerns, the establishment of a private airline has been challenging to say the least. Again, quoting a regular Fly 540 source from their East African operations: “We had to source qualified staff and then spend a lot of time training them to internationally-acceptable standards to ensure a safe and secure operation in Angola. This took a lot more time than initially planned, but we are now finally there. Our colleagues are taking to the skies this week, and we are happy for them and celebrate the youngest addition to the Fly 540 family.”
It is understood that Ghana will be next on the schedule of expansion although Fly 540 has also applied for air service licenses in a number of other Eastern, Central, Southern and Western African countries, aiming to become a major continental player on domestic and regional routes. Most likely as a result of these imminent developments, shares for major shareholder, Lonrho, rose last week by over 4 percent.
In a related development, it was also learned that TAAG, the national airline of Angola, presently allowed to fly under strict conditions and only with an approved aircraft into the EU, lost engine parts soon after takeoff from Lisbon, and the plane had to return to make an emergency landing. How this will affect their status in regards to flights from Angola to the EU remains to be seen, but aviation observers are doubtful that they can retain their conditional approval and may go on the total blacklist once again.