Korongo Airlines (ZC, Lubumbashi) is to cease operations citing prolonged difficulties in gaining traction. The announcement follows an AGM on Friday, September 4 during which shareholders and management collectively decided to discontinue flight operations and to begin the dissolution of the company.

The carrier has been grounded since late last month following an incident at Mbuji Mayi which put its only operational aircraft - B737-300 OO-LTM (msn 25070) - out of revenue service.

A joint-venture between Brussels Airlines (SN, Brussels National) parent SN Airholding (40%), Groupe George Forrest International (GFI) (36%), with the remaining 24% held by local Congolese businessmen, Korongo began offering scheduled flights throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2012. Using Belgian registered and maintained aircraft, the carrier positioned itself as a domestic and regional operator plying BAe 146-200s initially before introducing the B737-300.

However, despite strong load factors and contracts from several notable firms, the airline says it has not been able to expand to the proportions required to make it a viable longterm operation.

"...the company has unfortunately not been able to reach profitability due to a lack of critical mass, operations based on a fleet of only one aircraft, which doesn’t offer sufficient possibilities to amortize the fixed costs of an airline operation respecting all international safety standards," it said.

According to local Belgian media reports, with SN Airholding reportedly unwilling to pump any further funds into the struggling airline, attention was then turned to prospective new investors (with Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) reportedly a keen contender). However, those talks have now collapsed following the advent of Congo Airways (8Z, Kinshasa N'Djili) - the DRC government's new national carrier.

In the interim, Brussels Airlines says it remains open to putting its operational expertise at the disposal of the Congolese government for for the currently stalled Congo Airways project.