It wasn’t a mammoth crowd, but those present on Monday, March 28, at the Douala and Yaounde airports made enough noise to compete with the rumble of the Boeing 767-300. Le Dja, CAMAIR.CO’s flagship carrier, recently refurbished in Ireland, with some 174 passengers on board performed the inaugural flight of Cameroon’s new national airlines. That same evening the first commercial flight went from Douala to Paris.
With champagne on its wings the plane left Douala, and was greeted in the skies of the Nsimalen International Airport some 25 minutes later with even more champagne and an official inaugural. Transport minister, Bello Bouba Maigari, retraced the origins of CAMAIR.CO, born after the defunct CAMAIR was finally laid to rest by the state of Cameroon. As he spoke, many in the crowd made comments about hoping that the demons that haunted CAMAIR do not return to haunt CAMAIR.CO.
The staff of the new airlines, its first passengers and other observers, brimmed with pride as the new airline with ‘The Star of Cameroon’ inscribed in bold along its side taxied on the Nsimalen International Airport.
“We are looking to start new destinations. We don't want to become necessarily the biggest airlines, but we want to become a respectable airlines in the sub-region” Alex van Elk, the General Manager of CAMAIR.CO said sounding cautious about the future of the budding airlines.
With a fleet of just two aircrafts, the airliner will have to provide air transport services to travelers on the national territory and abroad. The Dutchman’s ability to ward off government intervention and influence-peddling, more than his skill in the business of aviation,will be his biggest test.
“We are not afraid of competition” he pressed on in response to the increase of other commercial airlines in the skies of Cameroon.