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Air Mauritius Seeks Partner to Aid Replacement of Airbus A340s

Air Mauritius Ltd. said it may seek investment from another carrier as it prepares to replace its aging Airbus SAS A340 wide-body aircraft with more fuel-efficient A350s or Boeing Co. 787s within the next five years.

The Indian Ocean carrier aims to get rid of all six of its A340s by the end of the fiscal 2017, Chief Executive Officer Andre Viljoen told reporters in Mauritian capital Port Louis.

Air Mauritius will consider a partnership with a bigger airline as part of its plan to return to profitability in fiscal 2014, with Emirates of Dubai, the No. 1 carrier by international traffic, and Air France-KLM Group, the biggest in Europe, having asked to be included in a request for proposals, Viljoen said.

“A strategic partner may assist with our own required future fleet requirements,” he said in the presentation, adding that new twin-jet planes will be a “game-changer,” offering a saving of as much as 30 percent over the four-engine A340s.

Viljoen is mulling outside investment after Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways agreed to take a 40 percent stake in Air Seychelles Ltd. earlier this year in a $45 million deal that included a $25 million loan to fund capital requirements.

Air Mauritius suffered a 29.6 million-euro ($37 million) loss in the year to March 31 versus a year earlier profit of 10.75 million euros as the fuel bill rose by 47.8 million euros, it said today. Sales gained 3.9 percent to 453.22 million euros.

The carrier expects to minimize its losses for fiscal 2013, with the “ideal” target being break-even,” it said.

Air Mauritius is the worst-performing leisure stock on the island’s bourse this year, down almost 31 percent. The 38-member SEMDEX index has declined 5.2 percent.

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