Sao Tome government searches for partners to set up new airline

13 June 2006

Sao Tome, Sao Tome and Principe, 13 June – The government of Sao Tome and Principe plans to close down Air Sao Tome, due to a lack of interest from Portuguese airline TAP in recovering the company, and is setting up a new airline with new partners, officials said.

Air Sao Tome, a company which is 40 percent owned by TAP, last month lost its only airplane in an accident over the sea close to the archipelago’s capital. The aircraft was a Twin Otter that the company had been using for the last 15 years.

Due to a lack of interest from the airline’s shareholders in the recovery plans presented by the government, the most recent cabinet meeting decided to approve “a proposal presented by the ministry responsible for air transport to dissolve Air Sao Tome and set up a new national aviation company with other partners and in which national interests would be better served.”

Along with TAP, the current airline is 35 percent owned by the Sao Tome state, French private investors, with 24 percent, and travel agency Mistral Voyages, with 1 percent.

According to Sao Tome daily newspaper, Tela Non, the minister for Infrastructures, Delfim Neves, is already working on setting up the new company, which is due to be assessed during one of the next cabinet meetings, and he already has proposals from operators interested in taking part in the project.(macauhub)