Brazzaville as an Airport Hub

ECAirIn the world of aviation, Africa has a reputation for being home to some of the world’s worst airlines.

Sure, there are some good ones – South African Airways, Air Seychelles, Air Mauritius and Ethiopian Airlines immediately spring to mind, but Africa is also home to some of the world’s worst airlines.

Air Sudan is considered to be the world’s second worst airline.  In the annual Skytrax airline survey, its top score was for the category of seat comfort, for which it received just two out of five stars – and in every other category it scored less.

Nevertheless, Equatorial Congo Airlines, which is based in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, wants to turn Brazzaville Maya Maya Airport into a Central African hub.

The airlines, which flies as ECAir, is relatively new, having only been formed in 2011, and it flies an all-Boeing fleet of 737 and 757 aircraft that are leased and crewed from Europe.  Although Boeing no longer builds the 757 you can still assume that the fleet are all well maintained.

Many African airlines have been banned by the European Union from flying to Europe, due to their poor maintenance and safety records.  ECAir is the first Congo airline to be allowed to fly to Europe and offers flights to Paris.

The airline is also opening up routes to the Middle East with flights to Dubai and Beirut also scheduled.

ECAir plans to expand its fleet to seven aircraft from the current four aircraft.   The Republic of Congo wants to capitalize on ECAir’s expansion plans and the refurbished Maya-Maya airport to turn Brazzaville into a Central African hub. The Republic of Congo is adjacent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly called Zaire, which is far larger in population and area, so the airport could service both countries.

The airport in Brazzaville expanded by 15 percent in 2013 to 1.1 million passengers but already has the capacity to service 3.5 million passengers annually.

Whether or not many international passengers would like to transit through a Central African hub is debatable, but even if the airport does reach its potential of 3.5 million passengers, in world terms that is a very low figure so even if it does become a hub, it would be one of the world’s least serviced hubs, but good luck to the Congolese for conceiving plans to address future growth.

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