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Algeria: Air Algérie to launch flights to Qatar

By Yara Rizk
Posted on Wednesday, 17 November 2021 09:24

An Air Algerie Boeing 737 at Paris’ Orly airport © Laurent GRANDGUILLOT/REA

As Algiers considers ending the monopoly of state-owned national carriers, Air Algérie has announced the launch of a new route between Algiers and Doha.

According to a press release published on 10 November by the transport ministry, two weekly commercial flights will connect Algiers to Doha. This new route is “part of the government’s efforts to strengthen and improve Algeria’s accessibility and diversify Air Algérie’s flights to various countries around the world.”

The press release also states that “in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, Qatari airlines have been authorised to operate two flights per week on the same route.” It further states that Qatar Airways is already operating an average of three flights per week between the two capitals.

No launch date has yet been announced, but the route will be operated by an Airbus A330-200, which can accommodate up to 230 passengers.

Agreement in principle

On 2 November, during a televised interview on the local channel Echorouk News, Aïssa Bekkai, Algeria’s transport minister, said the Algerian state is ready to welcome new “Algerian, foreign or mixed” air and maritime companies.

Algeria’s prime minister Aymen Benabderrahmane had made a similar announcement back in September.

Initially, an agreement – in principle – was made to only create nine new private airlines. “The ministry of transport’s services have given approval for nine private companies to be active in the air transport sector,” said the minister in charge of the dossier, who noted that “these approvals are not definitive.” However, no information about the companies in question has been made public.

Establishing a regulatory authority for the sector

In the event that new carriers effectively integrate the Algerian market, Bekkai said an air transport regulatory authority will be set up “before the end of the current year.”

It should be noted that foreign investments will remain subject to the principle of 51% of shares held by Algerian investors.

Serious financial difficulties

Bekkai regrets that these announcements have coincided with the gradual opening of the borders since June, while Air Algérie is going through “serious financial difficulties.”

Given the strong discontent expressed by Algerian nationals, the minister has also asked the company to “reconsider the prices of domestic flights”, insisting on the “need to find proposals and measures in the short, medium and long term” that will help improve Air Algérie’s services as well as internal management.

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