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CEIBA is flying high for Equatorial Guinea

Article - September 20, 2012
Founded in 2007, CEIBA is the country's flagship airline. It has come a long way since it started operating with a single second-hand plane
BIENVENIDO ATEBA MANGUE, ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL DIRECTOR OF CEIBA
CEIBA is Equatorial Guinea’s public aviation company. Financed entirely by public capital, it is a source of national pride thanks to its achievements and continuous growth. 

It started life as a very small company. “We had no offices,” says Bienvenido Ateba Mangue, CEIBA’s Administrative and Financial Director. “It normally takes up to two years to set up an airline, but since an aviation accident in 2006, the government had been very concerned about the sector. So in July 2007, just two months after being founded, CEIBA started operating flights with a secondhand plane. In December that year they flew for the first time to a different country, Cameroon.

Currently its fleet comprises four ATR aircraft plus one Boeing 737, which was recently acquired by the government and whose routes are being programmed in Hamburg.

The company was first put to the test in 2011, when the African Union Summit took place in Equatorial Guinea. Mr. Ateba Mangue recounts what came next: “[The AU Summit] went quite well, and then our most important challenge was the Africa Cup of Nations, in which CEIBA provided the official transport for CAN 2012.”

“At a technical level, we are complying with all maintenance requirements. What we have to do now, and we’re fighting to achieve this, is improve airport security, and adapt to a much more rigid system of control checks.”


“One of the company’s objectives is to effectively link up the whole country...We are planning to start flights to Corisco to further expand our many tourist possibilities.”


Bienvenido Ateba Mangue,  Administrative and Financial Director of CEIBA

He stresses the importance of  motivating  employees. “They have a sense of responsibility and patriotism; they know any error can diminish Equatorial Guinea’s image to the outside world.”

CEIBA’s short-term goal is to improve security. “At a technical level, we are complying with all maintenance requirements. What we have to do now, and we’re fighting to achieve this, is improve airport security, and adapt to a much more rigid system of control checks. We are in the process of doing this, and not far from reaching our objective,” says the director.

Furthermore, Mr. Ateba Mangue believes they need to be creative in order to do the job, but in his opinion they are going in the right direction and have “a solid structure”. He also stresses the efforts being made to get their name removed from the European Union blacklist: “Not long ago some government employees from the European Union who were in charge of the blacklist visited us to evaluate the situation regarding security and compliance with  international civil aviation requirements,” he explains. “New airport infrastructures are now being set up by several European companies. We’ve not been fully successful up till now, but the government is taking positive steps.”

One such step is the creation of the national civil aviation authority. “This  independent body is there to ensure compliance with all the regulations set by the IATA, etc.,” says Mr. Ataeba Amangue. “It can penalize infractions without  the need for government intervention… This will help to improve the industry’s credibility.”

The company has taken great care to ensure their staff achieve the required standards of proficiency. Three of their pilots have been trained by the French civil aviation and another 10 in Argentina. Two generations of flight attendants were trained in Spain and have international licenses issued by the European Union.

“We are also organizing many instruction programs internally because it is cheaper that way,” says Mr. Ateba Mangue, “We are planning a training course for agents and scale operations, and we have completed the Amadeus project. We are also in the final phase of management accounting. We are consolidating and evolving.”

The company is also aware of its role in boosting tourism. “It is difficult for a country to develop its tourism sector if it does not have the adequate tools to promote it,” says Mr. Ateba Mangue. “But this country has an airline that can project an image of the country and that is an honor for me.”

The airline is committed to a growth and expansion program that will include even more cities. Currently they fly to Annobon twice a week, and to 10 other international destinations, as well as operating local flights in the Central African Monetary and Economic Community (CEMAC) zone. It is important to bear in mind that the country consists of both the mainland and many islands, so good connections between all these territories is vital.

“One of the company’s objectives is to effectively link up the whole country. The airports at Annobon and Corisco are very modern and use the latest  technology. We are planning to start flights to Corisco to further expand our many tourist possibilities,” he says.
For Mr. Ateba Mangue, it is the change in mentality taking place in the country that will really attract international attention.

CEIBA’s current mission is to keep up the good work and make Equatorial Guinea proud of it. “As an international company, we at CEIBA are doing all we can to improve our product and our services. We are ready to welcome anyone who comes to Equatorial Guinea and CEIBA to help us to be the reference company in Africa – and why not, the rest of the world,” concludes its ambitious director.

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