Dili, East Timor, 29 July – Timor-Leste Airlines (TLA) may start operating in the second half of 2011 with five Brazilian “Embraer 190″ aircraft and regional flights from Dili to the main Australian cities and other cities in Asia, namely Singapore and Manila.
According to Vasco Carrascalão da Silva, who together with Portuguese-Mozambican businessman Mário Gonçalves, is responsible for TLA, “the project is now merely awaiting the approval of the Timorese government.”
“We are in quite advanced negotiation but I can’t give details at the moment. The company can only move ahead with the participation of the East Timor state. And while there is no official approval by the East Timor government, we cannot give more information about the project,” Carrascalão da Silva told Portuguese news agency Lusa Wednesday.
According to the businessman, the future Timorese airline is expected to be both state and privately owned and open to participation by foreign investors.
“Companies from other countries were invited but it is likely that other than Timorese companies, only Portuguese companies will take a stake,” he said.
“More than one Portuguese company was invited and one of them is working with us to develop the project, but is possible that more Portuguese companies will be involved,” he noted.
The idea is for this to be a full service flagship airline and not a low-cost airline,” he said.
Lusa reported that there had been contacts in Lisbon with the chairman of EuroAtlantic Airways (EAA), Tomaz Metello, linked to the Pestana group, to take part in the project.
Carrascalão da Silva said that TLA would acquire two small Australian-made aircraft.
“We plan to re-launch all the runways that existed in East Timor when it was under Portuguese administration, of which there were eight, including Ataúro,” he said.
Carrascalão da Silva also said that the aeronautical agreement signed this week by East Timor and Indonesia opened up the way for creation of the East Timorese airline. (macauhub)