This weekend, the Congolese civil aviation authorities have decided to reduce the daily Brussels Airlines flights to Kinshasa to 4 per week with immediate effect, Aviation24.be could determine from a tweet of Elysée ODIA (read below).
“I hereby inform you that, in the absence of reciprocity in the operation of international air services between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kingdom of Belgium, the weekly frequency numbers allocated to your Brussels Airlines airline are reduced by seven (7) to four (4), from Monday, February 5, 2018.
To this end, I invite you to submit, without delay, for approval, a new operating schedule.”
Signed on 3 February, Jean Tshiumba Mpunga, General Manager of the Democratic Republic of Congo Civil Aviation Authorities.
TOP CONGO FM has more news on the story: “The government of the DRC is applying ‘appropriate measures’ to re-balance the trade between the two countries,” a member of the cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained. “In that framework, both Congolese and Belgian airlines have rights to 4 weekly flights“, the member of the cabinet added.
La Rdc réduit le nombre des fréquences hebdomadaire alloué à Brussels airlines pic.twitter.com/kOSVn3KPwa
— Élysée ODIA (@ElyseeOdia) February 5, 2018
A diplomatic crisis between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is looming for weeks. Belgium has insisted that DRC President Kabila, who is still in power despite the expiration of his second and last term at the end of 2016, organises presidential elections and sets a step aside. The DRC then requested Belgium to close “Maison Schengen”, a kind of Consulate that delivers visas for visits to 17 EU Schengen countries, a measure likely to affect Congolese citizens much more than Belgians.
Belgium has tried to get a common EU position to sanction the DRC but was countered by France and Spain who have economic interests on DRC. Air France has helped the DRC to set up Congo Airways, which intends to fly to Europe in the future and can use the former Brussels Airlines frequencies.
Will Air France also have to reduce flights to Kinshasa by lack of reciprocity? There are indeed no Congolese flights to Paris either…
Anyway, the Brussels Airlines flight to Kinshasa left normally this Monday. Nothing is decided yet about tomorrow’s flight…
Update 21:35 (5 February)
Brussels Airlines will continue to connect Kinshasa seven times a week, a spokeswoman of Brussels Airlines explained to RTBF. This will remain the case until the Congolese Civil Aviation Authority approves the new flight schedule.