(Business in Cameroon) - Since July 2020, at least three multisectoral meetings have been held in the offices of Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute to finetune public airline Camair-Co’s reorganization plan. According to an authorized source, these meetings are closely monitored by President Paul Biya who instructed the government to work towards the resumption of the airline's activities as soon as possible.
Because of the president’s instruction, Camair-Co could resume operations in September 2020, instead of October as the reorganization plan was projecting, a source close to the case informs. Also, the source adds, President Paul Biya has ordered the company’s activities to be refocused on domestic routes to facilitate mobility in the country.
This order is in line with the strategy applied by former Camair-Co MD Ernest Dikoum. In 2017, the latter refocused the airline's operations offering only domestic flights. At the time he left the company’s management, Camair-Co was offering flights to seven of the ten regional capitals in Cameroon.
Therefore, with the various measures already initiated by the government to increase the Camair-Co’s fleet, the airline can easily launch routes to the remaining three regional capitals. Indeed, in a letter sent on July 14, 2020, to Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, the Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Republic (Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh) revealed that in preparation for the reorganization plan that will pave the way for Camair-Co’s privatization (as per the instructions of the President of the Republic), XAF15 billion has been provided to the company’s top management.
A new Managing Director
According to the Secretary-General, the funds provided were to be used to send the Boeing 737-700 NGs to the maintenance facility, acquire two Dash Bombardiers Q400 (better suited for short routes) and lease two engines for the second Boeing 737-700 NG.
The aircrafts thus available thanks to the fund will complete the two MA60s and the Bombardier Q400 already in Camair-Co’s fleet. With such a renewed fleet, the airline can confidently resume its operations in the coming weeks pending the appointment of a new MD. Indeed, public authorities are still looking for a new MD to replace Georges Njipendji Kouotou, after Charles Tawamba (the retired customs officer, renowned for his discipline, who reorganized Campost) rejected an offer to assume the position.
According to our sources, besides Charles Tawamba, the government also contacted two officials for this position but they both declined since it is considered a poisoned chalice regarding Camair-Co’s dire financial situation. Indeed, at the end of 2018, its debts were estimated at XAF110 billion, and in 2019 and H1-2020, it recorded XAF15 billion and XAF12 billion of projected losses respectively. Let’s note that since its establishment in 2011, the airline has been facing cashflow problems.
Brice R. Mbodiam