Huguette Bello’s wish for Air Austral comes true

It’s a bit of a ‘day of glory’ for the president of the Regional Council. The call for economic patriotism that she launched in 2021 worked. Air Austral can see further with local captains of industry at its helm.

“Defeat is an orphan but victory has a big family”, sings Huguette Bello this Friday morning at the end of a general meeting of the company. A meeting during which the breakdown of the funds constituting the future capital of the company was decided. “We are happy today to say that our call for economic patriotism has been heard. We also wanted capital to be Reunionese capital”she renews her wish made in October 2021, already.

Air Austral is therefore off to a good start with a capital increased to 55 million euros, 30 million of which are contributed by the shareholders of Runair, the company headed by Michel Deleflie and with which business leaders have joined. 25 million euros are brought by Sematra, the SEM of which the Region is the main shareholder. In these 25 million, the regional authority brings 15 million, the Department abounds up to 5 million while the Chamber of Commerce and Industry aligns 5 million.

The Reunionese flag remains planted on AA

This satisfaction comes after a long period of uncertainty which began to emerge during the year 2020. The Covid and its restrictions on air travel had been there and the business plan of the regional company – like the whole sky French and worldwide – had seriously wavered.

On November 14, 2021, in the square Labourdonnais and under the windows of the prefecture, Huguette Bello spoke. An intervention that had marked the spirits since all had retained his wish, to keep Air Austral in the bosom of Reunion and to continue to make “Reunionese pride”.

At that time, these words held more of the incantation since the rescue was announced badly engaged. The Parisian information that reached the ears of the Inverted Pyramid suggested that the government intended to favor the track of a common destiny with Corsair. This option was clearly going to cause the regional company to lose its Reunionese roots to the benefit of West Indian interests.

A few months later, a local entrepreneur will seize the pole launched by the Region. This man is Michel Deleflie, CEO of the powerful health group Clinifutur. The game was not won so far at that time since the one and only candidate for the takeover of the company – after the withdrawals of two other funds – conditioned its entry into the track by erasing the debt.

850 jobs preserved and an economic sphere around

All that remained was to wait for the decision of the European Commission. This ended up being announced on January 5, 2023. Brussels then confirmed that it had given the green light to the granting of French aid for the restructuring of 119.3 million euros in favor of Air Austral. The institution also endorsed the granting of compensation for damages suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in the amount of 17.5 million euros.

With this new impetus, the 850 employees of Air Austral can see the future more serenely, as can the indirect jobs generated by the continued presence of this airline player.

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