Senegal Airlines (Dakar Yoff-Léopold Sédar Senghor International) will be nationalized in a bid to stave off its imminent collapse the Senegalese government has announced. Amadou Hott, the CEO of the country's sovereign wealth fund, told Bloomberg news in an interview that a new holding company will be established with government converting the debt it holds to equity in the new entity. The airline, whose debt now stands at XOF45 billion (USD75 million), is owned by the Senegalese government (36%) and a consortium of local interests - Groupement National des Privés du Sénégal, Groupements de Prestataires Aéroportuaires and Fédération des Assureurs du Sénégal - with 64%.

Hott said that once the airline's finances have been stabilized, Dakar intends to sell a 49% stake off to a strategic investor with the remaining 51% to be owned by both the Senegalese government through the sovereign wealth fund as well as local investors.

In a bid to revive the struggling carrier, management recently unveiled a restructuring programme which will see the airline's 230-strong workforce reduced by 40% while remaining employees will take a 40% pay cut.

Senegalese president Macky Sall last week bemoaned the sad state of affairs at the carrier in particular airline bosses who earn as much as XOF10 million (USD16,150) per month while some underlings have gone without pay for as much as 4 months.

As such, Sall told Reuters that he wants to see a rejuvenated national carrier up and running by the time Dakar's new Blaise Diagne International Airport opens later this year.

"We are in discussion with some partners and soon we will able to say whether this company is being reborn or will die definitely," the president said. "I am optimistic that it can be taken in hand."

Launched in 2009 to replace defunct predecessor Air Sénégal International (Dakar Yoff-Léopold Sédar Senghor International), Senegal Airlines operates an A320-200 leased from Global Aviation Operations (GE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) and a Dash 8-400 leased from Falcon Aviation Services (FVS, Abu Dhabi Bateen) to serve Ziguinchor locally as well as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger regionally.