France approves flights to Algeria after seven-year break
The French government has approved a resumption of French commercial flights to Algeria that were suspended seven years ago following a hijacking in Algiers, the transport ministry said Monday, December 10. French carrier Air Lib was given the go-ahead by Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot to operate flights between Paris and Algiers and Marseille and Algiers.
Air Lib, which has said service to Algeria is critical to its financial future, must now get approval from the Algerian government, which according to airline sources could take three weeks. No French-flagged commercial carrier has operated flights from Paris and Marseille to Algiers since December 1994 when an Air France Airbus was hijacked at the Algiers airport.
Unions at Air Lib gave their approval to the service in late November on condition that personnel be allowed to choose whether or not to provide the flights. Air Lib was hard hit by the suicide attacks in the United States September 11, which traumatized the flying public and cut deeply into airline revenues, as well as by a lack of new investors. It is facing a deficit this year of 600 million francs (91.47 million euros, $81 million) rather than the 460 million francs initially foreseen. — (AFP, Paris)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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