EgyptAir Plans Africa Growth While Seeking $300 Million Support

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EgyptAir is looking to expand in Africa as air traffic recovers from the pandemic, even as the carrier seeks more than $300 million in additional government aid.

The state-owned airline plans to help develop a new Ghanaian carrier and is weighing a joint venture with a Sudanese airline, according to Roshdy Zakaria, chief executive officer of EgyptAir Holding Co. The new airline, likely called Air Ghana, will probably begin operations “in a couple of months,” he said.

EgyptAir will provide four Boeing Co. 737-800 aircraft to the Accra-based airline in which it will have a 75% share, Zakaria told reporters in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the emirates of the UAE.

The company is also in talks with Sudan Airways, the troubled state carrier of Egypt’s southern neighbor, for an initiative that might involve establishing a transport hub, Zakaria said.

“To spread in Africa, that is our main goal,” the CEO said. “When we have a hub somewhere in the middle of Africa that will give us a chance to reach” new destinations.

The plans come as EgyptAir, like most global carriers, battles the coronavirus’ impact on global travel. The government provided 5 billion pounds ($318 million) in loans in 2020 and the airline is asking for 5 billion-7 billion pounds in similar assistance this year to pay salaries, loans and aircraft leases, Zakaria said.

EgyptAir is also studying the possibility of taking over a flight service to Israel provided by Air Sinai, the only airline that currently has direct flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv, according to the CEO.

The carrier’s traffic is currently 40-50% of its pre-pandemic level in 2019, with hopes that will rise to 75% this year, Zakaria said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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