West African car­rier to spread its wings to SA

The Star Late Edition - - COMPANIES -

Henok Te­ferra said in an in­ter­view last week. A Jo­han­nes­burg ser­vice could be in­tro­duced by the mid­dle of this year, while Asky is also con­sid­er­ing a route to Beirut, Le­banon. Pas­sen­gers could travel from these cities through Lomé to the air­line’s 23 other desti­na­tions in West and Cen­tral Africa, in­clud­ing Ac­cra and La­gos.

“Paris is among our pri­or­ity desti­na­tions,” Te­ferra said. “There is sig­nif­i­cant traf­fic be­tween France and fran­co­phone coun­tries in West and Cen­tral Africa.”

The new routes will help Asky to grow in­de­pen­dently of Ethiopian, which owns a 26-per- cent stake in the To­golese car­rier and uses Lomé’s Gnass­ingbé Eyadéma air­port as a stop-off for transat­lantic routes to New York and Sao Paulo.De­mand for air travel in the re­gion is ris­ing along­side house­hold in­comes and eco­nomic growth, Te­ferra said.

Asky will add to its eight- plane fleet this year through a lease of two Boe­ing 737-800s, and aims to boost its pas­sen­ger num­bers to 650 000 this year from al­most 600 000 in 2016.

The com­pany made its maiden profit in 2015, five years af­ter start­ing up, Te­ferra said. It hasn’t yet re­ported earn­ings for 2016.

Sub-Sa­ha­ran African economies are pre­dicted to grow by 2.8 per­cent this year and 3.7 per­cent in 2018, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. That com­pares with an es­ti­mated 1.6 per­cent last year.

The air­line is open to dis­cus­sions with po­ten­tial in­vestors, Te­ferra said. Other stake­hold­ers in­clude Lomé-based Ecobank Transna­tional and the West African Devel­op­ment Bank. – Bloomberg

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