Aviation: UK Rock Star relaunches Air Djibouti with a new B737

Air Djibouti’s first passenger flight in 14 years landed in the small nation on Thursday with Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson at the controls.

The airline, one of Africa’s oldest, shut down all operations in 2002 but partially relaunched in August 2015 with a cargo service as the continent’s aviation industry became increasingly competitive.

Dickinson, front man of the heavy metal band – whose hits include The Number of the Beast, Run for the Hills and Aces High – is also a pilot and owns the company which will manage the airline.
He flew the plane into Djibouti from Cardiff, Wales.

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, the president of Djibouti’s port authority and free zones, said: “Djibouti confirms its position as a business and transport hub located on the [world’s] second most important maritime route.”
“Air Djibouti will allow the world to discover that Djibouti has incredible potential,” Omar Hadi added at a ceremony held once the plane had landed.

Air Djibouti will initially serve regional destinations including Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Nairobi in Kenya, as well as nearby Middle Eastern destinations such as Dubai and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Route expansion to Asia and Europe will begin in 2017 with a target of 200,000 passengers a year.
The president, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, also attended the ceremony on the runway at Djibouti airport, while journalists and dignitaries disembarked the Boeing 737 piloted by Dickinson.

The airline is expected to take receipt of three new aircraft by the end of the year.
Air Djibouti was founded in 1963. The new company remains a state-owned entity but management was taken on by Cardiff Aviation, Dickinson’s company.

The east African state of 870,000 people is heavily involved in large-scale infrastructure projects with Chinese financing, including two new airports, six new ports and a train line connecting Djibouti with Addis Ababa.

Source: theguardian.com

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