Cabo Verde: Airline wants to reconnect four continents from Sal hub

The president of Cabo Verde Airlines (CVA), Erlendur Svavarsson, said on Friday he expected the company to resume operating the Sal hub on the interconnection to four continents, making the resumption of the operation dependent on increased international demand.

Asked by Lusa news agency about information involving reductions in the company fleet, led since March 2019 by Icelandic investors but with no commercial flights for almost a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Erlendur Svavarsson said the management is taking “all possible measures” to be able to resume activity.

“We hope to connect four continents once again through our hub on Sal,” he said, referring to the connections that CVA guaranteed, before the pandemic, to Europe, Africa, the United States (North America) and Brazil (South America).

He added that CVA and its shareholders are “making every effort” so that the company “can restart operations as soon as the demand for air travel increases”.

“To achieve this goal, many issues need to be resolved, including staff training, aircraft maintenance, sales system upgrades and negotiations with creditors,” Erlendur Svavarsson further explained.

The CVA fleet consists of three Boeing 757-200s, which were relocated to a maintenance centre in Opa Locka, Miami, in the United States of America (USA), shortly after international flights to the archipelago were suspended in March 2020 to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of these planes (D4-CCH, baptised by CVA as “Fontainhas”) left Opa Locka on 20 December to Keflavík International Airport, the largest airport in Iceland, confirmed Lusa with industry sources.

In an interview with Lusa on10 February, the president of CVA said that so far, “all efforts” have been made to “avoid bankruptcy” of the company and that in addition to the state, it is necessary to involve creditors in the future solution.

In March 2019, Cabo Verde sold 51% of the then public company TACV (Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde) for €1.3 million to Lofleidir Cabo Verde, a company owned 70% by Loftleidir Icelandic EHF (Icelandair group, which took 36% of CVA) and 30% by Icelandic entrepreneurs with experience in the aviation sector (who took over the remaining 15% of the 51% share privatised).

“So far, all efforts have been made to avoid the bankruptcy of Cape Verde Airlines. As with the restructuring of airlines around the world, the efforts of all stakeholders, including suppliers and financiers, will be needed to relaunch the airline successfully,” said Erlendur Svavarsson, asked by Lusa about a possible closure of the company.

Currently, 39% of the airline’s capital remains in the Cape Verdean state (10% among emigrants and CVA workers), and negotiations with the Cape Verdean government for support have been going on since May, in view of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Cape Verde has lost significant revenue due to the reduction in tourism as a result of the pandemic. This loss of revenue may reduce the government’s ability to assist the airline. I am convinced that the shareholders will reach an agreement. Still, I am also convinced that other stakeholders, such as commercial creditors, will have to be part of the solution in a significant way,” Erlendur Svavarsson said, without giving any figures on the company’s debts.

Since the start of the pandemic, Cabo Verde has recorded 142 deaths due to Covid-19 and 14,885 infections.