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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Air Afrique loses half its fleet
The African airline is set to lose half its fleet
The African airline is set to lose half its fleet
Pan-African airline, Air Afrique, is being forced to hand back four leased planes, half its fleet, as it cannot pay its debts.

Bailiffs grounded two of the planes in Ivory Coast, one in Senegal and one in the French city of Bordeaux.

Air Afrique, which leases eight planes in total from the International Lease Finance Corporation, expects that the return of the four aircraft will affect its inter-state and New York services.

The airline, which was set up in 1961 by former French colonies as a symbol of unity and independence, is currently struggling with debts of $464m (510m euro)

It narrowly avoided bankruptcy in August, but was saved when Air France agreed to take a controlling stake of 35%.

Member states
Benin
Burkina Faso
Central African Republic
Republic of Congo
Ivory Coast
Mali
Chad
Mauritania
Niger
Senegal
Togo

The company's 11 member states now own 20% of the company.

"I suspect that as we are moving into a climate where governments will be helping airlines in the United States and in Europe, it's unlikely that we will just see them walk away from Air Afrique," Geoffrey Lipman at tourism organisation Green Globe said.

In light of the financial limitations faced by African governments, Mr Lipman believes that European governments may also be keen to help the airline.

"In the medium term there has to be a different way to provide air services to African nations but what you can't allow is those countries not to get air services," he said.

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 ON THIS STORY
Green Globe's Geoffrey Lipman
"It is unlikely that we will see them just walk away from Air Afrique"
See also:

15 Aug 01 | Business
Air Afrique wound up
13 Jun 01 | Africa
Air Afrique buys time
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