Air Madagascar’s skies are shrinking

Reports coming in from Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city and hub of national airline Air Madagascar, suggest that the airline has effective immediately halted flights to Asia and suspended operations to Bangkok and Guangzhou.

Reasons cited were low yield and lower than expected load factors, leading to the decision as part of an austerity programme of cost and route cuts similar to what other Indian Ocean based airlines have gone through.

The most recent example would be Air Mauritius, where the adjustments were successful to a point while a few years ago Air Seychelles found itself in a similar situation when under CEO Bram Stellar the entire long haul network was scrapped at short notice. Had it not been in fact for the personal efforts of President James Alix Michel at the time, who brought Abu Dhabi’s national airline Etihad on board as a strategic investor, the airline may very well have ended up with just one short and medium haul jet aircraft and been relegated to a predominantly domestic carrier.

Air Seychelles since then has become a success story but if Air Madagascar will find a similar suitor, ready to pump in money and take on the management of an airline which has in the past been subject to intense labour action, remains to be seen.

For now, no such strategic partner has come over the horizon on its own and Air Madagascar has also not spoken up, nor has the government, if at all they are in discussions with deep pocketed potential investors.

At some stage last year did the airline and Reunion based Air Austral sign a codeshare deal on flights to Australia, an option open for Air Madagascar to seek such solutions with this airline and Air Mauritius but only time will tell how successful such deals can be and what shape and format Air Madagascar will take in coming months.