The Angolan airline Sonair, a subsidiary of the Sonangol oil group, can no longer guarantee its service between Luanda and Houston, Texas as from March, allegedly due to financial difficulties.
This information is in a memorandum, which the Lusa agency has seen, from the American oil company Chevron, which operates in Angola and uses this air link, advising that the last Houston Express flight - a link created specifically for the oil companies that operate in the country – will depart from Houston on March 28 and will return from Luanda the next day.
In the same memo, Chevron, which operates in Angola through the subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (Gabgoc), promises to find alternative transportation for its personnel, explaining that the decision is necessary due to Sonair’s "financial and commercial difficulties".
Lusa sought further clarification from the Sonangol group, but has so far been unsuccessful.
On May 1st 2017, Sonair decided to open the Houston Express service, previously exclusive to oil companies operating in Angola, to the general public, to reduce the impact of weak demand brought about by the low oil price.
A statement, dated March 31st 2017 and seen by the Lusa agency, from Sonair, a subsidiary of the Angolan state oil company, said that the company was granted permission by the U.S. Department of Transportation to partially open the Houston Express flight with effect from April 3rd 2017.
The flight became semi-open, with 80 seats per flight, among the 189 available, dedicated to public passengers.
Angola, together with Nigeria, leads the list of sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil producers, but since late 2014 it has been facing a severe financial, economic and currency crisis due to the fall in oil export revenues.