Madagascar streamlines its operations

Ceasing international flights, refocusing and developing domestic and regional flights and the implementation of the airline’s strategic plan are among many challenges facing Thierry de Bailleul - the CEO of Madagascar Airlines - as it searches for international investors.

Image: Air Austral

Air Madagascar merged with Tsadaria last year to form Madagascar Airlines. Image: Air Austral

Thierry de Bailleul recently shared the many challenges facing the airline with France’s tourism stakeholders - an important market for the new Malagasy company.

The airline received both its Air Transport Certificate (CTA) and operations license in April 2023 when Madagascar Airlines was born from the merger of Air Madagascar and Tsadaria, its subsidiary dedicated to domestic flights. The ending of the strategic partnership with Air Austral - and the Covid-19 global pandemic - having caused the liquidation of Air Madagascar.

Despite a difficult financial environment, de Bailleul has stabilised the company thanks to a change in structure and he continues to deploy the strategic plan, named Phénix 2030, that’s divided into three phases.

The first initiative was to cease long-haul flights to Europe. These were operated by wet-leased aircraft, but were costing too much.

Second came a refocusing of its flights towards domestic and regional destinations including the fellow Indian Ocean airports such as Reunion, Comoros and Mauritius.

The company has also recommissioned its existing ATR fleet, stating that soon as the network and the domestic and regional markets are in balance, investing in the Airbus A330-200 to revive long-haul will be considered.

Malagasy’s tourism ministry plans to increase the number of international destinations – and to open new tourist markets - with the goal of reaching an annual total of a million tourists by 2028.

This plan resulted in the signing of an MoU between the Malagasy  government and Qatar Airways in January 2024 and the company will soon launch a daily direct flight from Madagascar.

According to Valéry Ramonjavelo, the country’s minister of transport, the objective is to triple the annual number of international flights - from 80 to 240 – while further partnerships with companies in the Middle East and China are on the cards.

Currently, around 10 airlines operate 80 weekly international flights to Madagascar and the nation plans to introduce more than 150 additional direct flights.

The airline is also seeking investors for Madagascar Airlines and it’s worth recalling that the Reunion airline Air Austral, along with Ethiopian Airlines, were both on the short list to seal a strategic partnership with Air Madagascar a decade ago.

Anuradha Deenapanray

Anuradha Deenapanray

Anuradha is a francophone editor for African and Arabian Aerospace magazines.