On Monday 16 April, Korongo Airlines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo began operations with the launch of its first route out of its base in the copper mining city of Lubumbashi in the south of the country. The airline, which is named after the Swahili word for migrating birds, is a joint venture between Brussels Airlines, the Belgian-Congolese mining company Forrest Group that has large activities in the south of the country, as well as private Congolese investors. Brussels Airlines has long sought to set up a Congolese carrier to connect its intercontinental services to and from Kinshasa with the mining cities in the south of the country.
The first two routes are indeed to the country capital Kinshasa, which operates eight times a week, as well as to Johannesburg in South Africa, operated twice-weekly from Thursday this week. Three of the eight weekly flights to Kinshasa will allow easier connections to and from Brussels Airlines’ European flights by operating as international services, having passengers clear customs and immigration in Lubumbashi.
Initially, the airline will use a single 126-seat 737-300 and an 84-seat BAe 146-200, both of which are operated by Brussels Airlines. With the arrival of an additional BAe 146, the airline will further expand its domestic network within the southern parts of the country, adding flights to the mining cities Mbuji-Mayi and Kolwezi, although details of these operations are not yet announced.
|Launch date||Origin||Destination||WF||A/c||Competition (WF)|
|16-Apr-12||Lubumbashi (FBM)||Kinshasa (FIH)||8||eqv||Congo Express (10), Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation (7), flyCongo (6), Stellar Airways (3)|
|19-Apr-12||Lubumbashi (FBM)||Johannesburg (JNB)||2||B733||South African Airways (5)|
|Source: SRS Analyser & airline websites
WF: Weekly Frequency
Although the airline does not (yet) accept bookings online, advertised promotional fares of US$299 on the 1,550-kilometre route to the capital suggest that the airline is entering a relatively high-yield market.