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Visiting old haunts

Following a nine-year absence from Algeria, Air France is set to resume services to the North African nation during the summer.

France’s large Algerian population is set to benefit from increased services to Algeria after reports indicated that Air France (AF) was planning to resume flights to Algiers from June 28. The airline halted its services to the Algerian capital in 1994 after an A300 was hijacked at Algiers International Airport, resulting in the death of 3 passengers.

According to the Algerian Press Service, Air France will gradually return to the North African nation, flying twice daily from Paris and once from Marseille.

A spokesperson for the airline confirmed that it was considering a return to Algiers, although they stressed that this was unofficial. The French Civil Aviation Service (CSAM) highlighted on April 29 that it was looking carefully at the situation, but that AF still possessed the landing slots for the airport.

The Paris-based airline until now pointed to security reasons for not resuming its flights to Algiers, but following French President Jacques Chirac’s recent state visit to the country, it appears that the French government now considers the geopolitical situation sufficiently stable. AF will no doubt be looking to tap into France’s large Algerian community, which, at present exceeds the 1 million mark.

Since 1994, Air Algeria and Khalifa Airways have served the France-Algeria route on the Algerian side, while Aeris, Air Lib and Air littoral have flown in from the French side. Recently, both Air Lib and Khalifa Airways were forced to withdraw their services, which has in turn given Air France the opportunity to move back into this possibly lucrative route.

In a separate development, Air Algeria has announced plans to renew its fleet of about 40 planes with new Airbus aircraft. According to Air Algeria’s chief executive, Tayeb Benouis, the airline aims to take delivery of 17 new planes by the end of 2003.

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