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African Regional Carrier Hopes to Take to the Skies


Backers of a new regional airline for West and Central Africa say they are beginning their search for investors. They hope the new transnational carrier will fill the void left by the defunct Air Afrique. Jordan Davis reports from Dakar.

The Corporation for the Promotion of a Regional Airline says it needs as much as $200 million to start a new carrier.

Corporation president Gervais Koffi Djondo says the unnamed airline will link African capitals with each other and the rest of the world.

Djondo says after a series of highly publicized air crashes in recent years, Africa needs a flagship airline that is safe and reliable.

The new company would rely on private financing. The last major regional carrier, Air Afrique, was primarily owned by African governments.

That company had a clean safety record. But it went bankrupt four years ago due to poor financial management.

Backers of a new company say since Air Afrique went under, many routes linking African capitals are no longer served. Many passengers crossing the continent have to transit through Europe or South Africa.

Djondo says a number of small, primarily national airlines have formed since Air Afrique went out of business, but a larger airline would be best to compete with European airlines.

Plans call for the airline to begin flying within a year.

But before it takes to the skies it will have to negotiate with local governments for the right to fly various routes. And it still needs airplanes and the crews to operate them.