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Ivory Coast's National Carrier Takes Off

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Ivory Coast's National Carrier Takes Off

Air Côte d'Ivoire Airbus A319s.

Ivory Coast's new national airline Air Côte d'Ivoire launched operations on Monday following months of delays, the company said.

The company was created by government decree in February, replacing the West African nation's former carrier Air Ivoire, which collapsed last year.

"The first commercial flight took off today at 2:05 pm (14.05 GMT) with Dakar as its destination," Rene Decurey, the company's chief executive, told reporters.

"We'll begin with flights to the sub-region of West and Central Africa," he said.

The airline was initially meant to begin flying in April, but delays in acquiring aircraft and obtaining certification repeatedly pushed back the launch date.

Air Côte d'Ivoire operates two leased Airbus A319s and has plans to eventually expand service to include domestic routes within Ivory Coast.

The company is 51 percent state-owned while Air France holds a 35 percent stake, with domestic private investors controlling the remaining interests.

(Reuters)