Djibouti has relaunched its national airline

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(AFP)- Djibouti has relaunched its national airline — a company managed by Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson. Air Djibouti, which went bankrupt in 2002, recommenced flights weeks ago with a cargo plane carrying six tonnes from Djibouti to Somalia, to Hargeisa, the capital of self-declared Somaliland.
« This is the link in the chain that was missing from Djibouti, » said Abubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, who said he hoped the airline will help ferry cargo onwards from Djibouti’s key sea port. « We need a national company to ensure our ambitions. »
The airline is backed by British company Cardiff Aviation, whose chairman is Dickinson, a Boeing 757 and 737 pilot and instructor, and who is also the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. He used to pilot the British band’s plane during their world tours.
Dickinson’s company — based in Cardiff in Wales — signed a deal in May to provide airline support to the carrier, including management, maintenance and staff training.
Djibouti — which hosts several foreign military bases, including those of the United States, France and Japan — aims to become a regional hub for air cargo transport, to forward sea cargo arriving in its port.
The tiny country of around 850,000 people has bold ambitions to become the commercial hub of eastern Africa, building on its role as the main port for landlocked Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country.
Other flights are scheduled next week to the Somali capital Mogadishu, to South Sudan’s capital Juba and the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Currently with only one aircraft, the company is due to take delivery of five aircraft later this year, including a Boeing 767, 737 and 757.
It is planned to begin passenger flights in November with connections to Paris, London, Dubai and Mumbai.

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