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Air Mauritius readies for expansion with new planes and hubs
[JOHANNESBERG] National carrier Air Mauritius will take delivery of a new plane this month and another next year, additions that will boost the reach of its fleet of 12 jets, Chairman Arjoon Suddhoo said.
Founded in 1967, Air Mauritius currently operates a fleet of four Airbus Group SE A340-300C, two A340-300E, a pair of A330-200, two A319-100 and two ATR 72-500s. Air Mauritius currently serves 23 destinations in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.
A third ATR72-500 will join the fleet in June to enhance services in the Indian Ocean region, mainly to Rodrigues and Reunion islands, and a new Airbus A350 should be delivered in October 2017, Mr Suddhoo said.
The airline "will reach its cruising speed with the renewal of our fleet and with the addition of new destinations to our network," he said by phone from the capital, Port Louis.
The carrier made a 16.5 million euro (S$25 million) profit for the year through March after posting a 23.6 million euro loss in the previous period as the number of passengers went up by 9.4 per cent to a record 1.5 million. A fuel hedging exercise in 2014 had left it with a 1 billion rupee (S$38.4 million) revenue shortfall, Mr Suddhoo said. "We overturned what could have been a very catastrophic situation," he said.
The company added the Mozambican capital, Maputo, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to its network last month and plans to begin flights to Guangzhou, China, in July, to augment three destinations on the mainland.
Air Mauritius also intends to develop Singapore as a hub and is working on creating another in Amsterdam, the second in Europe.
"In fact we are looking at our whole network with a new mindset, which consists of collaborating with new airlines," Mr Suddhoo said, while conceding that six carriers that have been granted access to the island nation, including some low-cost airlines, would intensify competition.
"No country can survive with a closed access policy, we need people to come in, we need to be connected and air connection can inevitably help in the economic development of the country."