Air Transport World

Capacity woes stifle TAAG's growth potential.

Capacity woes stifle TAAG's growth potential

For the People's Republic of Angola, air transport is vital. Torn by civil war since obtaining independence from its former colonial master Portugal in 1975, the country now has virtually no reliable surface communications. As a consequence, demand for seats on the domestic services of TAAG Angola Airlines, the national carrier, is such that the terminal building at the capital's 4 de Fevereiro Airport is inadequate to cope with the crowds. Instead a hangar is used as a makeshift domestic terminal. In downtown Luanda hordes of would-be travelers jostle at the TAAG ticket office to try to make reservations.

The expansion of TAAG's domestic traffic has been spectacular. In 1977, the year it was formally established as Angola's flag carrier, 233,000 passengers were transported. The total increased to 503,000 in 1979 and to 829,000 in 1985, with load factors usually running 100%. In 1987 it is expected that more than a million domestic passengers will be carried, and the figure would be even higher it TAAG had the capacity.

Meanwhile, domestic freight and mail traffic has expanded tenfold since 1977 and is likely to total 35,000 metric tons this year. Freight traffic is highly directional, with most cargo being carried on routes radiating from Luanda.

TAAG's international operations also have expanded tremendously since 1977, with the route network progressively extending to link Luanda with Europe and Latin America. Prior to 1977 the airline was mainly a domestic operator with a few services to neighboring African countries. In 1985 TAAG carried 127,000 passengers and 11,000 tons of cargo and mail on its international routes. By 1990 the airline expects that these totals will more than double.

Aircraft purchases delayed

TAAG's expansion has been, and still is, restricted by a shortage of capacity. The airline has had some of its aircraft grounded at times by lack of spares due to foreign political pressure on certain suppliers to withhold deliveries. At least one TAAG aircraft was shot down by anti-government factions. …

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