Read for you – Dismissal of Minister Lazhar Hani and of the CEO of Air Algérie

KAMEL BENELKADI source elwatan.com translation by Africa Aero

Lazhar Hani, Minister of Transport, Bakhouche Alleche, CEO of Air Algérie, as well as the head of catering for the airline, have been dismissed.

Decisions taken yesterday on instructions from the President of the Republic, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s services. According to the same source, ‘this decision was taken following the undertaking of an import operation by the national airline Air Algérie of supplies related to the catering activity, without taking into account the national economic context and the financial guidelines for the rational management of currencies and the priority to be given to national production».

According to our information, this is the purchase of porcelain for the first class, while the planes do not currently fly internationally. This was considered an inappropriate expense in times of crisis. Lammari Mounir Kamel, director of catering, paid the price for this market.

Faced with the collapse of oil prices, the country’s main resource, and the drying up of foreign exchange reserves, the President of the Republic has instructed the public managers in the framework of the new economic model to opt for the rationalization of the expenditures and has ordered to «privilege the national production» to the import.

Guidelines that would not have been respected by Air Algérie officials. The national airline, which has resumed its domestic flight programme, is nevertheless in a difficult financial situation, marked by a shortfall of 40 billion dinars. Air Algeria has been hit hard by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bakhouche Alleche has been at the head of the company for almost 4 years, where he replaced Mohamed Abdou Bouderbala in February 2017.

He began his career in 1975 as a pilot and rose through the ranks in senior positions, as director of the operations division and deputy CEO of Air Algérie. He tried to adapt Air Algérie to a particular context, marked by constant changes in the air transport sector. But the mission was not at all easy for a company that went through several areas of turbulence and repeated protest movements.

Air Algérie had to review its management method (a plethora of staff, an improvement in its image). 25 companies operate in the Algerian sky. The France network is the most important for Air Algérie, but opposite, there are four companies that make resistance: Air France, Transavia, ASL and Vueling.

Most foreign companies have focused their development on continuations through «hubs», that is to say correspondence platforms. During the Council of Ministers on 4 October 2020, President Tebboune asked to «review» the management of Air Algérie in order to make it competitive internationally, while ensuring that the number of its commercial agencies abroad is reduced. Since then, nothing has been done in that direction. No action plan has been proposed for a redefinition.

But if the explanation of the dismissal of the CEO of Air Algérie is more or less admissible, how is the Minister of Transport concerned or involved in a transaction between Air Algérie, which is an economic public company (EPE/SPA), and a foreign operator?

Was he aware of this transaction? Did he let it go despite the recommendations of the President of the Republic? It is true that since his appointment to the Department of Transport, this sector has been stalling while it is strategic and needs to be reformed and modernized to meet the needs of the country.

Since his arrival at the head of this department, a conflict of interest has also been raised about him, knowing that he is as active as his family, in a private capacity, in the field of maritime transport. Indeed, he is a shareholder in the Algerian subsidiary of the Spanish logistics Romeu Algeria, and that of Green Algeria of the taiwanese Evergreen Marine Corp.

Better yet, he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors (PCA) of China Shipping Algeria, an Algerian subsidiary of China Shipping Container Lines. The new Algerian transport minister is a real baron of the maritime sector. Lazhar Hani and his daughter Lamia Naila Hani represent several major foreign shipowners and logisticians. A conflict of interest that does not go without irritating competitors,’ writes the Africa Intelligence website in its June 29, 2020 edition.

Its exclusion is also explained, according to some observers, by the «disastrous course of repatriation flights and the return of almost empty planes». Emigration deputy Noureddine Belmeddah and Senator Abdelouahab Benzaim sent a letter to the President of the Republic in early January to denounce the progress of repatriation operations entrusted to Air Algérie.

The two elected officials said they were «shocked» by the bureaucracy surrounding the operation. 25,000 Algerian nationals stranded abroad are still waiting to join the country. This operation must be thoroughly reviewed.

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