Turkish Airlines to partner with Niger in new national carrier

NIAMEY Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:33am EST

A Turkish Airlines plane takes off at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

A Turkish Airlines plane takes off at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul November 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

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NIAMEY (Reuters) - Turkish Airlines, the world's fastest growing major carrier, will partner the government of Niger to create a new national airline for the West African country, Niger's government announced on Thursday.

Niger has been without a flagship carrier since its first national airline, Air Niger, was dissolved in 1985 amid mounting debt.

Niger will own a majority stake of 51 percent in the new company, with Turkish Airlines holding the remaining 49 percent.

"The government...has decided to create a viable national airline to transport passengers and cargo that will be based in Niamey and named Niger Airways," the government said in a statement read on state radio.

The statement gave no further details concerning the size of investment, the size of the fleet or destinations it would serve.

Turkish Airlines is expanding in Africa where it aims to challenge the dominance of Air France (AIRF.PA) and Lufthansa owned Brussels Airlines (LHAG.DE) on the European, Asian and North American routes from the continent.

It increased its passenger traffic to Africa by 50.2 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year while its Revenue Passenger Kilometer, which measures the number of those paying to fly with the airline, jumped 47.6 percent in the same period.

Turkish Airlines, whose share price hit a record high last month, now flies to 33 African destinations, more than any other international carrier. (Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki and Bate Felix; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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