Monday, March 9, 2020

CONFIDENTIAL: Camair-Co is about to file for bankruptcy

Investigation of a company condemned to the crash, and that the system is bent on maintaining under a cerebral coma.

A large part of the staff of the Cameroon Airlines Corporation (Camair-Co) should observe an unlimited work stoppage since February 26, at the call of the Air Transport Workers Union (STTA). In the transmission of strike notice made three days earlier to the director general, Louis Georges Njipendi, the protesters note that the national airline "is making giant strides towards almost certain bankruptcy". 

On the same day, the union, in a detailed note to the Regional Delegate for Labor and Social Security of the Coast, outlined a series of patterns drawing the contours of a crash that some predict as inevitable. There are thus exposed, the very high risk of cessation of activities, the very serious threat of loss of the air carrier certificate (AOC), an unfavorable institutional framework, reduced operation at the lowest point, traumatized and terrorized personnel, an unknown and / or unsupported organization chart. 

There is also the absence of vision, missions, objectives and clear values, the drastic and dramatic loss of customers, over-indebtedness, inappropriate rentals and acquisitions of equipment and aircraft, or the recurrence of the phenomenon. salary arrears, another scourge on the way. 

This new adrenaline rush among staff comes as the government intends, like other moribund public enterprises, to review the economic model of Camair-Co. Which, in 2019, continued to collapse under a debt of some 32 billion francs, other billions of grants or bank loans, eventually appearing as so many bandages on a wooden leg. 

"Why do others do well and not us?" Perhaps it is the economic model which is not good. I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible to have a good national airline without having a hub that is important. Maybe the two go together. You have to think about an entire ecosystem that includes airports and the airline. And I tell you, the head of state is very annoyed by this situation, "says the Minister of Finance (Minfi), Louis Paul Motaze. And the ex-commercial director of the company to drop, fatalistic: "Isn't the problem that from the start, we started with a solution of a 100% public company? I do not know."

Because therein lies the problem. If the national financier is still to procrastinate on medication, it is the initial diagnosis is either biased, or false. Or the ^ dgux. Unless, inevitably, the government, in childish pride, has decided to show, once again in broad daylight, its inability to reform and revive. This last thesis thrives in the minds of several specialists in eco-structural issues. 

Since its launch on March 28, 2011, the Camair-Co has never really reached cruising speed, its fleet, now reduced to its simplest representation, being also regularly nailed to the ground for various breakdowns and other debts with providers. And this despite a promise to open up capital to the private sector, never materialized by the public authorities for more than 7 years. 

The national airline, with its plethoric workforce was also the subject, in 2016, of a recovery plan proposed by the American cabinet Boeing Consulting, a recovery strategy also remained unsuccessful. Which provided, in addition to debt clearance, the injection of 60 billion francs, the resizing of the network as well as the modernization of the fleet of aircraft with 14 aircraft. We promised, among other things, the resumption of domestic flights, the opening of 5 intercontinental routes and 13 regional destinations. 

Clientelism networks 

The Camair-Co seemed however out of the eternal zone of turbulence when, in February 2019, its general management boasted of having transported some 350,000 passengers the year before against nearly 300,000 in 2018, annual revenues being as for them passed from 16 to more than 26 billion francs during the same period.

The top-mdnage-ment then announced the transfer of the property of its ancestor, the Camair and the State to its heritage, but also the opening of capital through a call for funds to public and private companies. He also reassured the treatment of his debt, or 35 billion francs at the end of July 2016, for a fleet then made up of 5 aircraft. Dreams in technicolor, for a structure deliberately maintained in cerebral coma by networks of influence. 

The appointment, in May 2019, of Louis Georges Njipendi, 6th chief pilot in 8 years 0'existence, is a perfect translation of what the Camair-Co is sailing in opposite currents. Leaded by clientelism networks, inspired by an economic model without vision and where politics commands managerial choices, the "Etoile du Cameroun" has remained pale from the start. To make matters worse, in October 2019, it recalled to headquarters its executives in service in the agencies of Abidjan, Cotonou and Lagos, at the same time as it suspended the lines serving West Africa. 

In July before, the Minfi had launched a national call for tenders for the recruitment of audit firms on the accounting and finance of Camair-Co, but also of Cameroon Water Utilities (Camwater) and La Cotonnière industrial of Cameroon (Cicam). A project clearly without a future. The resentment of Louis Paul Motaze, here a few weeks ago about the first company mentioned, clearly translates Cameroon's powerlessness to acquire a stable, viable airline, sitting on management bases free of clan considerations. 

As if to add to the confusion, the Technical Commission for the Rehabilitation of Public Establishments and Bodies in Cameroon gave the cover earlier this week. She indicated that the French cabinet Efac had been designated, following an international call for tenders, to carry out the audit of Camair-Co. The claimant has two months to perform the autopsy of the dying company, for fees of around 59.028 million francs. Exit therefore Boeing Consulting, its recovery plan and the dubbing of Paul Biya.