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Lusa - Business News - Cabo Verde: Airline's finances now 'especially good'; no state injection - CEO




Praia,April 16,2021(Lusa)-The CEO of Cabo Verde Airlines (CVA), Erlendur Svavarsson, said on Friday that the financial situation of the company is now "especially good," but that the Cabo Verde state had not injected any funds into it, contrary to what had happened with its competitors based in Portugal.
Speaking to Lusa in Praia after his return on Wednesday from Iceland on the Boeing-757 'Baía de Tarrafal', which landed at the capital's international airport over a year after it was put into storage abroad, Svavarsson explained that the support from the state - which has a 39% stake in the company - has been only in the form of guarantees for bank loans.
"In fact [the state] has not injected any funds, unlike our competitors SATA and TAP, which continue to receive contributions from the state" of Portugal, he stressed. "The government of Cabo Verde has been very diligent with public resources and has not given any money to CVA so far - only guarantees, which means that the company is having access to loans, which now represent sufficient funds to take the next step in the process of refinancing the company."
SATA and TAP - both based in Portugal - are the only airlines that maintain regular connections from the Cabo Verde islands of Sao Vicente, Sal and Santiago to Europe and the US. Both have been receiving state support due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
"CVA's financial situation is especially good because, despite the pandemic, we were able to refinance the company," Svavarsson said. "We gained access to liquidity, with the support of the government."
He cited successive state guarantees backing loans equivalent to about €20 million since November as enabling the company to restructure existing credits and ensure salary payments to workers.
In March 2019, the Cabo Verde state sold 51% of the then public company TACV (Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde) for €1.3 million to Lofleidir Cabo Verde, a company owned 70% by Loftleidir Icelandic EHF (of the Icelandair group, which took a 36% stake in CVA) and 30% by Icelandic entrepreneurs with experience in the aviation sector (who took the remaining 15% stake of the 51% that was privatised).
According to the CEO, the return to Cabo Verde of the company's first aircraft marks the resumption of operations, although there is still no date for the resumption of flights, which have been suspended since March of last year due to the pandemic.
However, he stressed that over the past year it was possible to keep on more than 300 workers on furlough, through the simplified model created by the government to support companies affected by the pandemic, while not renewing the short-term contracts of others.
"Now we will have to wait to see how the tourism sector recovers and resume operations to determine the level of workers that will continue," he said. "But I must say that we have done a particularly positive job in maintaining social responsibilities towards workers and I want to thank them because at times they have been very patient with us.
"Sometimes salaries were paid late, which is something terrible and I apologise to them for that and I am sure that with a team like this CVA will not fail," he stressed, adding: "Currently, salaries are up to date and that is positive news for everyone."
Despite the difficulties that the Icelandair group is also facing in Europe, similarly to other airlines, due to the impact of the pandmic on tourism, Svavarsson said that its investment in CVA and the hub set up on the island of Sal - to serve as a base for flights to and from Africa, Europe, North America and South America - is to be maintained.
"Absolutely," he said of the hub plan. "It was a strategic investment that was made by Loftleidir Cape Verde and its shareholders, and the belief remains very strong in this business model of connecting four continents.
"The belief remains very strong in Cabo Verde as a tourism destination and when we consider the culture, the people, the atmosphere of 'morabeza' [locals' easy-going warmth] and everything that Cabo Verde has to offer, I believe we have a very strong position," he concluded.
Cabo Verde's government at the end of February announced an agreement with CVA's management on the resumption of operations that it said foresaw the renegotiation of loans with creditors, also involving the Icelandair group, which via Loftleidir supplies the company's aircraft.
Following that, the government on 6 March authorised at the request of CVA's management the fifth state guarantee for an emergency loan, of €12 million euros. With this guarantee, state-backed funding sought by the company since November totals almost €20 million, according to Lusa's calculations.
The new agreement with the government foresees a reduction from three to two aircraft for CVA and the resumption in the short term of flights to Portugal and the US, aimed at serving emigrant communities. In return, the state will bolster its position on the board of directors, so gaining real decision-making power.

PVJ/ARO // ARO.
Lusa


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-04-17 09:55:00







 

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