TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: Air Mauritanie

An Air Mauritanie Boeing 737-200 at LPA (Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Founded in 1962, Air Mauritanie was once the national airline of Mauritania, and experienced several decades of glory before hitting hardship and ultimately being replaced. During their history, however, the airline expanded a great distance beyond domestic borders.

Initially, the airline operated leased DC-3s. Over the years, their fleet would expand to include a Nord 262, Ilyushin 11-18s, DC-4s, Piper PA-31 Navajos, F227As, Boeing 727s, and Boeing 737s. Two Fokker F28s eventually made up their fleet, but when one was lost in a crash, two ATR 42s were ordered to replace the airplane.

Air Mauritanie’s hub was located in Nouakchott, Mauritania. A majority of their flights were domestic, but their international route network included various cities across Europe and Africa.

Throughout the course of their history, the airline provided service to international destinations such as Praia, Paris, and Casablanca, among others. Within Mauritania, the company served cities such as Atar, Kiffa, Nema, Nouadhibou, Selibaby, Tidjikja, Zouerate, and Aioun el Atrouss.

In 1967, Air Mauritanie reorganized, resulting in the Mauritanian government controlling a 60% stake in the company, and allowing Air Afrique and Union de Transports Aeriens, or UTA, each a 20% stake. Again, in 1974, the airline reorganized again, this time as Societe d’Economic Mixte Air Mauritanie.

Several factors contributed to their collapse, starting in 2004 when the UK banned the carrier from flying through their airspace. Shortly after, Air Mauritanie was blacklisted as a result of the Mauritania Civil Aviation Authority failing to comply with ICAO standards.

The following year, the blacklisting situation caused an economic decline, and the government replaced the airline’s director. By 2006, Royal Air Maroc took a controlling 51% stake in the company.

Also, towards the end of 2006, Mauritania’s government formed a new airline with the assistance of Tunisair and other private investors. The struggling airline’s situation continued to worsen, and in 2007, two aircraft were seized as a result of debt. This final action resulted in Air Mauritanie ceasing their operations entirely and liquidating the company.

Ashley Magoon

Ashley Magoon

Ashley is currently a senior in high school and plans on pursuing a career in aviation or journalism. Her favorite airplanes include the Boeing 777, 737MAX, and Airbus A350. She enjoys taking flights on various airlines to different airports and planespotting at her local airports.
Ashley Magoon
  • Patrick Wirtz

    I rode one of Air Mauritanie’s Fokker F28s (thankfully not the one that crashed) back in 1981 from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou before continuing on to Las Palmas in the Canaries. Even as a kid I was impressed by the friendly, polished service on the flight, a far cry from the “even worse than Aeroflot” stereotype of the smaller African airlines at the time. Good job, Mauritania, I loved my year in your country!

  • Justin

    Great post. I landed in Nouakchott once on a flight from Dakar to NKTT, it was the roughest landing I have ever experienced flying. I had friends tell me they used to fly from Aioun to NKTT with goats on the planes and even one person saying he sat in the cockpit since all the other seats were taken. I had one flight from Nouakchott to Las Palmas with a layover in Nouadhibou that wasn’t posted on the ticket but was part of the planned flight, it is a weird experiences going down without exptecting it