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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Air Afrique wound up
Empty booking desks at Air Afrique
Once a symbol of post-colonial co-operation
By North Africa correspondent David Bamford

The leaders of 11 West and Central African countries have agreed on a plan to liquidate their once prestigious regional airline, Air Afrique.

A new company is to be formed in its place in which the African states, all of them former French colonies, will play a much smaller role, while a significant stake will be held by the French national carrier, Air France.

With well over $400m of debt, and nobody willing or able to bail the company out, Air Afrique had nowhere else to go

After months of discussion about what to do with the debt-ridden regional airline, the African leaders at their summit in Brazzaville agreed to liquidate the airline.

Air France will inject about $69m in start-up capital into the new company.

The new airline will have the same name.

Plan resisted

Air France, a minority shareholder in the outgoing company, will now hold 35% of the firm, the biggest single stake in the company.

The 11 participating African countries will own just over 20%.

Institutional investors will hold 38% of the new company, and employees will own 5%

The plan is basically one proposed by Air France, but resisted for months by both the African leaders and Air Afrique's 4,000 employees.

But with well over $400m of debt, and nobody willing or able to bail the company out, Air Afrique had nowhere else to go.

See also:

13 Jun 01 | Africa
Air Afrique buys time
01 Mar 01 | Africa
Mali 'cut off' by strike
06 Jun 01 | Business
Air Afrique's mayday call
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