Cabo Verde: Angolan airline BestFly promises cheaper domestic flights

The chief executive of BestFly, the Angolan group that today took over the public service concession for inter-island air transport in Cabo Verde, said its objectives were to lower the price of flights and stay beyond the six-month emergency contract.

“What we committed to with the government of Cabo Verde was to find a solution in which the state of Cabo Verde had no expenses and we, as a company, had no expenses. Our aim is to reach breakeven [financial balance],” Nuno Pereira told Lusa in Praia.

The group was chosen by the Cape Verdean government, after a market consultation, to take over as of May 17 an emergency six-month concession for the inter-island public passenger air transport service. The choice was announced on Friday by the government, given the absence, for several weeks, of tickets and flights scheduled by Transportes Interilhas de Cabo Verde (TICV, of Spanish group Binter) from May 17 – in an apparent dispute with the government, claiming financial support due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – the latter being the only company that operated, for almost three years, the internal air links.

The chief executive of the Angolan group gave Lusa assurances that the operation that launched today, and which this first week provides for 30 flights between all of Cabo Verde’s islands, was set up in just 15 days and that despite the difficulties in the sector, with a sharp drop in demand last year due to the lack of tourism, the market study carried out suggests that it is still “a very appealing business.

“We have our operation very well organised, with cost containment, with technical and operational efficiencies, because obviously, we cannot lose money. But the idea is also not to come and make a lot of money, and the ticket prices reflect that. They will decrease, they will be cheaper, that is the idea,” said Nuno Pereira.

“That was our commitment to Cabo Verde. It was to bring transport solutions at a price that is balanced and consistent with the current situation that the world is experiencing,” added the company’s chief executive.

The BestFly group is the result of a family company set up in Angola, whose shareholders are Angolan businessman Mario Palhares and General João de Matos (1955-2017), who was head of the General Staff of the Angolan Armed Forces, whose heirs are still shareholders in the company, and which also operates in countries such as Dubai, the Republic of Congo and Portugal.

The operation in Cabo Verde, where the group claims to have its own company, started with the BestFly Angola operator. At the same time, it awaits certification from the Civil Aviation Authority (AAC) as the Cape Verdean operator, and with one ATR72-600 aircraft, with the arrival of the second, which started the maintenance process today, expected by the end of June.

“It only won’t arrive sooner because of the maintenance it is undergoing, but as soon as it is ready, it will come to Cabo Verde,” he said, stating that BestFly’s aim in the archipelago is to “continue after the six months” of the emergency concession contract.

“The cooperation of the Cape Verdean authorities was fantastic. The Civil Aviation Agency should be a source of pride, not only for Cape Verdeans but for all Africans, because they have shown that they are an authority with capacity, with diligence and with great professionalism,” he concluded.