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West African Leaders Meet  to Discuss Air Afrique Restructure Effort - 2002-01-10

West African heads of state are meeting in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, to discuss efforts to restructure the nearly collapsed multi-national airline Air Afrique.

The airline, with more than 4,000 employees and a debt of more than $460 million has one working aircraft left in its fleet.

At their meeting here, leaders and ministers of the 11 nations that own the carrier hope to come up with a plan to launch a new company. The meeting follows an agreement last year in which the French state owned carrier Air France agreed to assume a 35-percent share of Air Afrique. Air France, however, has said restructuring the carrier will require shedding more than 2,000 jobs. Plans to liquidate or restructure the African carrier have prompted angry demonstrations in recent weeks by the labor union representing Air Afrique employees.

The cancellation of Air Afrique flights has nearly paralyzed air travel between nations in West Africa.