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Air Cote d'Ivoire To Launch With Two Airbuses

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Ivory Coast's national air carrier will restart operations in April under a new name, Air Cote d'Ivoire, with two Airbuses A319s flying to regional destinations, officials said on Thursday.

The West African nation's government signed a decree on Thursday creating the new company. The state will have a 51 percent stake while Air France will hold 35 percent and private domestic investors will hold the rest.

"The first flight is planned for late April and the capital of the new company is about 25 billion CFA francs," government spokesman Bruno Kone said by phone after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The airline will replace the former Air Ivoire, which collapsed last year.

"The former company is now bankrupt. It was difficult to restructure it, that is why we prefer to create a new company," Kone said.

An official at Ivory Coast's transport ministry said the new company will begin by leasing two aircraft to fly to regional destinations.

"We'll start with two Airbus A319 aircraft. Then the next year we will increase the fleet to three. But whenever the need arises, there will be ways for us to increase the number of aircraft," the official said, asking not to be named.

(Reuters)