Congo Airways (8Z, Kinshasa N'Djili) has grounded its fleet days after President Félix Tshisekedi instructed the government to make urgent funds available for the struggling national carrier.

Officially, the airline announced it suspended operations on September 11 to "reorganise its equipment". In a statement, it promised to resume service "in a very short time" and thanked Tshisekedi for intervening regarding an urgent provision of funds.

Meanwhile, Congo Airways CEO José Dubier Lueya said the airline needs at least USD33 million to resume its operations. Speaking on Top Congo FM radio station in Kinshasa on September 11, he confirmed the decision to halt operations was taken because the engines of both of the airline's two A320-200s needed replacing. "We reached the end of the engine cycle on both planes at almost the same time," he explained. He estimated replacing all four engines would cost USD28 million. Lueya also suggested purchasing a second-hand plane for USD5 million but did not elaborate. The airline owes USD30 million in unpaid taxes, he added.

Earlier this year, A320-200, 9S-ALU (msn 3362), had a broken landing gear repaired. It now joins the other A320-200, 9S-AKD (msn 3412), and two DHC-8-Q400s already in maintenance.

ADS-B data showed that 9S-ALU's last rotation (flights 8Z223/8Z224) happened on September 4 between Lubumbashi and Kinshasa N'Djili. On September 7, 9S-AKD took over a once-off rotation on the route, according to ADS-B data.

As reported, the DRC Council of Ministers has instructed the Minister of State, the Minister of the Budget, and the Minister of Finance to allocate the necessary funds for the recovery of Congo Airways. The government aims to relaunch the ailing carrier by implementing an emergency plan to ensure access to aircraft and prevent operational interruptions.

Near bankrupt Congo Airways is to be revived with promises of a USD1.3 billion lifeline from an international investor, development company A&M Development, according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Kinshasa on March 2, 2023. In February, chairman Khaled Sadek told ch-aviation the MoU was no guarantee of investment but merely an undertaking by the group to investigate the feasibility of rescuing the airline. A team of aviation experts would be appointed to do the due diligence. A&M Development Group is already involved in USD37 billion worth of infrastructure development projects in the DRC.

A&M Development was not immediately available for comment.