Madagascar Airlines, previously known as Air Madagascar, is eagerly anticipating the approval of a comprehensive development plan from the government before January 2024. This plan, submitted by the airline’s General Director, Thierry de Bailleul, is a crucial step in their mission to propel the carrier into a new era of growth and advancement. However, the impending political crisis, just weeks ahead of the presidential elections, poses a challenging backdrop to the airline’s aspirations.
De Bailleul, a seasoned aviation professional with a background in esteemed airlines such as Air France-KLM, Emirates, and Qatar Airways, expressed the urgency in obtaining approval and commencing the funding process to launch long-haul flights by next summer. Speaking with Jeune Afrique during a meeting in Toulouse convened by the Association of French-speaking air carriers (Ataf), Bailleul stressed the importance of meeting the December deadline to ensure a feasible timeline for the proposed expansion plans.
“If we want to launch increases in long-haul flights for next summer, we have to do it before the end of December, otherwise the backward planning will be too tight,” he told Jeune Afrique.
While specific details of the developmental strategies remain undisclosed, the plan is anticipated to encompass a substantial investment envelope. This funding is aimed at facilitating the modernization, digitalization, and restructuring of the airline’s fleet. Madagascar Airlines intends to shake off the negative reputation associated with its predecessor, aiming for a complete rejuvenation by renewing its fleet with reliable, modern aircraft, with expectations set on the Embraer E190-E2.
Presently, Madagascar Airlines operates its six ATR 72s to various Malagasy cities, with flights extending to Reunion, Mayotte, the Comoros, and Mauritius. For long-haul routes to destinations like Paris-CDG and Marseille, the airline has been utilizing wide-body aircraft, initially the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner from Ethiopian Airlines and more recently, an Airbus A330-200 from Air Belgium, operated under a wet lease.
The urgency to gain government approval arises amidst a tumultuous political environment as Madagascar braces for the upcoming presidential elections on November 16 and December 20. The outgoing President Andry Rajoelina, a candidate in the elections, faces scrutiny over alleged electoral corruption. This has created an atmosphere of contention, with calls for disqualification and the establishment of a Special Electoral Court by a collective of ten candidates and Transparency International.