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African Airliners, How Safe?

Fri Jan 14, 2000 4:42 am

I'm planning a trip to Africa real soon, and I heard about Air Afrique and Air Gabon. I wanted to know how safe those airlines are, African airliners in general.
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RE: African Airliners, How Safe?

Fri Jan 14, 2000 4:59 am

Africa is a very heterogenic country. Many airlines are too small to generate relevant statistical information about its safety; an airline with 4 aircraft would have a record as nice as Southwest's or Qantas' if none of these crashed, but a very bad one if one did.
But in general, Africa has had more than its fair share of crashes. While there are quite few passenger-jets around, there have still crashed an amount comparible to lets say Europe with 10 times as much jets flying. Some airlines, like Tunis Air, RAM or South African have proven to be OK; big airlines with few accidents.
The last passenger casualties with Air Afrique were in 1963, with an old DC-6. With a fleet of 15 aircraft, that's a nice score. (Beware of the domestic Air Ivoire, though).
Air Gabon is a tiny airline with about 7 aircraft. They had a non-fatal ATR incident in 1994 (which ran in a ditch) and a fatal DC-6 freighter crashed in 1979. Not very alarming compared to other airlines, but I would feel a bit less secure with a small airline with such a mixed fleet (these 7 aircraft contain a 747, a 767, 2 727s, 1 737 and 2 Fellowships), which has probably no good maintenance.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?

RE: African Airliners, How Safe?

Fri Jan 14, 2000 8:37 am

You did not specified where you're heading for but, for the two airlines you mentionned, I can tell you that they (and other majors mentionned by the two guys before) are as close as possible to western world standards for airlines based in Africa regarding safety. However, some problems can be experienced with Air Afrique due to its very heavy financial problems. Many airports and related services asks Air Afrique (and sometimes other airlines) to be paid cash prior providing services (like fuelling) since there is no thrust between parties and in many places very frail legal systems. So this provokes sometimes very long delays. I've been stock in Brazzaville once for many hours because of that and some people I knew were on a flight that had to fly an extra leg to Lomé because they were not able to get any fuel in Cotonou. Another kind of problem is corruption in any ways you can (or they can) think of. It can be backhands at customs or simply this: once in Pointe-Noire, Rep. of Congo, the local minister of nat.rescources decided few hours before the Air Afrique flight to Cotonou that he (with all his bunch of followers) was chartering the flight. So half of the passengers for this flight were told basically better chance next time...I must add that the service was absolute garbage. On the other hand, regular flights with Air Gabon were quite up to standards. Their hub in Libreville is one of the very few decents aiports in this part of the world (normal jetways, etc.). One last thing: avoid TAAG (Angolan Airways). We had to use them once but the oilfield operator that we were working for had their airplanes audited by Air France. Their verdict was that they were totally sub-standard. Wishing you a safe and pleasant trip.
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Fri Jan 14, 2000 9:02 am

fully agree with you concerning Air Gabon.
Question: Air Angola used to fly IL62, are they still in service?


Fri Jan 14, 2000 10:12 am

I can not tell you for sure but if there was any left when I flew with them (summer 1997), there was not many left. What I can remember from the in-flight magazine, most of their aircrafts were Boeing. The problem was, at least with the aircraft we flew with (a 737), that they`re old aircrafts bought from western world airlines (15-20+ years old) so they need more maintenance but instead get less with these mickey mouse airlines.

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