Air Mali (1960–89)
|Founded||27 October 1960|
In June 1960, the Federal Assembly of the newly independent Mali Federation voted to set up a new national airline to be known as Air Mali. Société Nationale Air Mali was founded by the Malian government on 27 October 1960 with the intent of becoming the newly independent country's national airline. When the airline was founded, the legislation under which the airline was set up gave the airline exclusive rights on domestic flights, and international flights from the country to the outside world. The company which was founded with start up capital of CFA 50 million, was given the right to sell up to 45% of its shares to private investors, however, very few were sold.
Technical assistance was provided to the airline by the Soviet airline Aeroflot, which also provided equipment for the airline to begin operations. The British government donated three ex-British European Airways Douglas DC-3s, which the British purchased for GBP 70,000. The airline began flight operations in 1961, but initially only operated executive services for government officials from Bamako to various administratives centres on the country, and joined the International Air Transport Association in July 1961. The first domestic route which was taken over from Air France was one which linked Bamako to Gao on the River Niger, the once capital of the Songhai Empire. Prior to taking over the flight, Air France operated a weekly service with Douglas DC-4 equipment, and once flights were inaugurated by Air Mali, service was increased to twice-weekly with Douglas DC-3 equipment.
On 20 March 1961, a contract was signed in Moscow for the supply of a number of Ilyushin Il-18, Ilyushin Il-14, Antonov An-2 and Mil Mi-2 helicopters. The two Il-18s were delivered in August 1961, and with them Air Mali began and expanded its international network to include Paris, Casablanca and Marseille. The aircraft were initially flown with Soviet crews whilst African crews were trained in their operations. The airline began flights to Ghana in December 1961, and regional destinations, some inherited from Union Aéromaritime de Transport, included Monrovia, Abidjan, Accra, Douala, Brazzaville, Dakar and Conakry, utilising the Il-14s and DC-3s.
Air Mali was the first airline to provide service to many Malian cities which had previously not received air services. The airline's domestic network was for the most part unprofitable, however, this was subsidised by profits the airline made on its regional and international networks. The Bamako-Accra route which was suspended at the time of the 1966 coup in Ghana was restarted in 1967, and on 14 September of the same year Aviaexport announced the signing of a deal with Air Mali for the supply of two Antonov An-24, which when delivered were operated on domestic and regional routes, such as Bamako-Mopti-Goundam-Timbouctou-Gao-Niamey. The airline was forced to seek a replacement for the Il-18s by the end of the 1960s, as the turboprops had become to expensive to operate and maintain.
The airline's first jet aircraft, a Boeing 727-100C was acquired in 1971 to enable the airline to service longer-range international routes to Paris, Marseille and Casablanca. The 727 was joined not long after by a Boeing 737-100 for use on medium-range regional routes in Africa. By March 1980 , Air Mali had 577 employees; at this time, the fleet included one Antonov An-24B, one Boeing 707-320C, one Boeing 727-100C, one Ilyushin Il-18 and two Twin Otters that flew international routes to Abidjan, Accra, Banjul, Brazzaville, Casablanca, Conakry, Douala, Freetown, Lagos, Libreville, Lome, Monrovia, Niamey and Paris, and domestic services to Gao, Goundam, Kayes, Kenieba, Mopti, Nara, Nioro, Timbuctou and Yelimane.
On 22 February 1985, the An-24 experienced an engine explosion upon take-off from Timbuktu Airport, eventually crashing before reaching the airport of departure. Following this accident, and also because of large debts the airline had incurred, the government forced the airline to close down,[when?] with its operations being taken over by Malitas in 1989.
The airline served the following destinations throughout its history.
The airline operated the following equipment all through its history:
- Airbus A300B4
- Antonov An-2
- Antonov An-24B
- Antonov An-24RV
- Boeing 707-320C
- Boeing 727-100C
- Boeing 737-200
- Caravellle III
- Caravelle 10B
- Douglas C-47A
- Ilyushin Il-14
- Ilyushin Il-14P
- Ilyushin Il-18D
- Ilyushin Il-18V
- Twin Otter
Accidents and incidents
According to Aviation Safety Network, Air Mali experienced five hull-loss events throughout its history. Following is a list of these events; four of them were deadly ones, totalling 111 fatalities.
|5 November 1966||Cayolle Pass||Il-14M||TZ-ABH||W/O||7/7||Crashed in the French Alps. The aircraft was flying the second leg of a Minsk–Zagreb–Marseille–Bamako route.|||
|11 August 1974||Linoghin||Il-18V||TZ-ABE||W/O||47/60||The airplane was due to operate a non-scheduled international Bamako–Niamey–Kano–Mecca passenger service. On its first leg, it was diverted to Ouagadougou because of bad weather at Niamey. A forced landing was made after the aircraft ran out of fuel flying over the wrong city, apparently due to a navigational error.|||
|21 June 1983||Bamako||Twin Otter 300||TZ-ACH||W/O||7/7||Crashed under unspecified circumstances.|||
|22 February 1985||Timbuktu||An-24B||TZ-ACT||W/O||50/51||Experienced an engine failure just after takeoff from Timbuktu Airport bound for Bamako. The aircraft crashed before returning to the airport of departure.|||
- "Mali Plans Own Airline". Dakar, Mali Federation: The New York Times. 24 June 1960. Retrieved 10 January 2010.(subscription required)
- Guttery, Ben R. (1998). Encyclopedia of African airlines. New York City, New York: Ben R. Guttery. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-7864-0495-7.
- "Mali: Rubles for Timbuctoo". Time. 31 March 1961. Retrieved 10 January 2010.(subscription required)
- Ginsburgs, George; Slusser, Robert M. (1981). A calendar of Soviet treaties, 1958-1973. BRILL. p. 137. ISBN 90-286-0609-2.
- Ginsburgs, George; Slusser, Robert M. (1981). A calendar of Soviet treaties, 1958-1973. BRILL. p. 408. ISBN 90-286-0609-2.
- "World airline directory – Air Mali (Société Nationale Air Mali)". Flight International 118 (3716): 277. 26 July 1980. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013.
- "Mali Airliner Crash Kills 50 Near Timbuktu". The New York Times. 23 February 1985. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014.
- Stamm, Andrea L.; Bastian, Dawn Elaine; Myers, Robert A. (1998). Myers, Robert A., ed. Mali. Clio Press. ISBN 1-85109-166-1.
- "Air Mali – Horaires été (Valables du 1 juin au 31 octobre 1982)—Mali – France – Inter-Afrique" [Air Mali – Summer timetable (Effective 1 June 1982 – 31 October 1982)—Mali – France – Inter-Africa]. Airline timetable images (in French). Archived from the original on 20 August 2013.
- "World Airline Survey – Air Mali (Société Nationale Air Mali)" (PDF). Flight International: 438. 22 March 1973. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "Air Mali – Horaires été (Valables du 1 juin au 31 octobre 1982)" [Air Mali – Summer timetable (Effective 1 June 1982 – 31 October 1982]. Airline timetable images (in French). Archived from the original on 20 August 2013.
- "SubFleets for: Air Mali". AeroTransport Data Bank. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- "Accident record for Air Mali". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Accident description for TZ-ABH at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 31 December 2011.
- "Rapport final concernant l'accident survenu le 5 novembre 1966 près d'Esteng (Alpes-Maritimes) à Ilyouchine 14 TZ-ABH" [Final report for the accident of the Ilyushin 14 TZ-ABH occurred on 5 November 1966 at d'Esteng (Maritime Alps)] (in French). Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses. 14 May 1970. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Accident description for TZ-ABE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 31 December 2011.
- Accident description for TZ-ACH at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 31 December 2011.
- Accident description for TZ-ACT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 31 December 2011.
- Accident description for TZ-ACS at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 31 December 2011.