Royal Air Maroc pulls last plane from Senegal fleet

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Royal Air Maroc (RAM), majority shareholder in Air Senegal International (ASI), has withdrawn its last plane from ASI’s fleet, a move that threatens the stability of one of West Africa’s few reliable airlines.
The recall, earlier this month, of a Royal Air Maroc Boeing 737 from Cotonau, Benin, leaves ASI with just two planes and marks a deepening row between Morocco’s flag carrier and Senegal.
RAM, which owns 51 percent of ASI, has been trying to pull out of the arrangement but a Senegalese court declared earlier this year that it was obliged to remain in the deal, Reuters notes
“Yes, our (Moroccan) partners ordered the Moroccan crew to return to Casablanca,” Maniang Faye, head of ASI’s board of directors, told Reuters.
Under an agreement signed with the Senegalese government, RAM provided ASI with two Boeing 737-700 aircraft. RAM pulled the first aircraft three weeks ago and the recall on April 9 now leaves ASI with just one 737 and a Dash.
“The situation will become very difficult now for ASI (to operate),” said a senior ASI employee, who asked not to be named.
The relationship between ASI and RAM has been deteriorating for some time. RAM complained about moves by Senegal in 2007 to modify the structure of the airline to give Senegal majority ownership and the Senegalese authorities have accused the Moroccans of blocking an audit of the firm.
In a vast region with poor roads where air travel is essential, ASI has been one of West Africa’s more reliable airlines.