MK’s future at stake: the watershed meeting with creditors postponed

The administrators of Air Mauritius announced that the watershed meeting of the national airline’s creditors initially scheduled for the end of June has been postponed to January 2022 following a Supreme Court decision. Anuradha Deenapanray Chappard reports.

The future and revival of the Mauritian carrier depends on this much awaited and decisive meeting. A rescue plan will be discussed to stop the financial haemorrhage which has weakened the airline year after year. The reopening of borders is also a major issue as for the time being there are only cargo and repatriation flights.

Air Mauritius entered a voluntary administration in April 2020 following a total collapse in revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemic and crisis, but the airline was in a financial imbroglio much before. 

According to the administrators, many exogenous factors have influenced their work progress. Discussions are currently underway to find the most appropriate financial investment and structural reforms to ensure the survival and gradual restart of the national carrier. They say that the postponement will give more time to creditors to come up with the most efficient and pragmatic strategy in view of the current economic and health context.

“Our final proposals will depend a lot on the financial support that the major creditors are prepared to give to the company. Discussions have been initiated and we hope that the necessary arbitrations will be made quickly to enable us to hold the watershed meeting before January 31, 2022.”

The administrators underline that they are determined to complete this voluntary administration process as quickly as possible and make decisions in the best interests of the company and the country, given the strategic importance of the airline.

Several measures have been implemented during the previous year, enabling the company “to save more than Rs 1.75 billion (42,4 million USD) annually. For the time being, we continue to honour financial commitments and ensure flights, in the context of economic and humanitarian activities. However, these savings are not enough to lift the company out of voluntary administration”.

“As administrators, we will continue to work tirelessly to convene the watershed meeting as soon as possible and find the best solutions for the good of the company and its partners.”

Air Mauritius will most probably need to slash unprofitable routes which have greatly impacted its operational costs. Paris, London, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur will remain its main hubs. Daily inter island flights to Rodrigues and Reunion Island will remain unchanged. Beijing and Shanghai are also strategic routes within the airline’s network. 

Mauritius will open for international travel on July 15, 2021 

Mauritius will reopen its borders in two phases during 2021: the first phase, from 15 July to 30 September 2021, will enable vaccinated travellers to enjoy a resort holiday on the island. Holidaymakers will thus be able to make the most of the facilities within their chosen resort premises, including the swimming pool and beach. A list of pre-approved Covid-19 safe resorts will be available as from 20 June 2021 at Travellers to Mauritius aged 18 years or over must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They must undergo a PCR test between 5 and 7 days before departure and a negative result is required to travel to the island. Travellers will also have a PCR test on arrival at the airport in Mauritius and on day 7 and 14 of their resort holiday, as applicable.

For Phase 2, starting on October 1st 2021, vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions upon presentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure. Unvaccinated travellers will be subject to 14 days in-room quarantine for both Phases 1 and 2 until further notice. The announcement follows the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and the progress made towards herd immunity by the end of September. Frontliners of the tourism industry were prioritised during the vaccine rollout. This will enable a prompt and safe restart of the Mauritian tourism industry.

The aviation industry operates in a climate of global uncertainty and Air Mauritius like other airlines depends on an upturn in air traffic for future revenues, and therefore sustainability. Parties concerned will do their utmost to ensure the survival of Air Mauritius. During decades, the national carrier has contributed to this insular economy which depends on  air connectivity for tourism, commerce, business and travel. 

Vincent Chappard

Vincent Chappard

Vincent is an aerospace editor and consultant based in Paris.