- The capitals of the oil rich countries Angola and Equatorial Guinea are seeing their new executives' direct flights to the American oil capital Houston secured. The US company World Airways announced today it is to operate the flights for the Angolan airline Sonair Servico Aereo.
World Airways today announced the extension of the existing contract with Luanda-based Sonair. Sonair is a subsidiary of Angola's National Oil Company, SONANGOL. The new contract is extended until June 2004, and two one-year renewal options could further extend the contract until June 2006. It was expected to generate approximately US$ 27 million for the US company in 2003.
World Airways was to operate the flights from Houston, Texas, to both Luanda (Angola) and Malabo (Equatorial Guinea). These so-called "Houston Express" flights for Sonair are direct, non-stop flights, and are flown using a specially configured MD-11 aircraft featuring first-class, business class, and an upgraded economy configuration.
The passenger flight service of the "Houston Express" is offered only to member companies of the US-Africa Energy Association. Association members were said to be billed at "competitive rates for the services actually used," which include ongoing travel arrangements.
The 16- hour non-stop flight saves time for key executives, as well as increases productive work and leisure time for rotational employees. Delivery of high- priority freight is also speeded up dramatically.
The continued existence of the "Houston Express" underlines the leading role US capital has taken in the oil sectors of Angola and Equatorial Guinea, two countries widely criticised for their lacking transparency in oil operations.
The Gulf of Guinea has become a major focus of the oil-hungry industry in the US, which constantly works to lessen its dependency of the Middle East. Major oil production here exists already in Angola, Gabon, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, in addition to less production in Congo (Brazzaville) and Cameroon and future production in São Tomé and Principe.
The US government has been strongly criticised for fermenting several of the region's most oppressive regimes by protecting their ruling elites in possession of the vital resource. In particular the Malabo regime is reputed for its systematic violations of all basic human rights and for keeping no account of its substantial oil revenues. None of the region's regimes have tackled their populations' widespread poverty.
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