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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
Pan-African airline takes off
AfricaOne plane
AfricaOne will initially fly DC-10s
A new African airline has been launched, which aims to link countries across the continent with the rest of the world.

Unlike previous attempts to establish a pan-African airline, AfricaOne is entirely owned by African entrepreneurs, with no government involvement.

Africa is still a virgin land

Captain Joe Roy
The company will be based in Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni travelled on board the inaugural flight on Monday.

On Tuesday, the airline will have a test flight to the Nigerian commercial capital, Lagos.

African French-speaking countries who own Air Afrique, decided earlier this year to wind up the company.

Free travel

The Chairman of AfricaOne, Captain Joe Roy, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that the freedom from government control would be a crucial difference.

Air Afrique office
Air Afrique is being wound up

One problem faced by Air Afrique was that so many people with family links to government members and senior officials used to travel for free.

AfricaOne aims to operate throughout the continent and initially will serve Entebbe in Uganda, Lagos, Freetown in Sierra Leone and Banjul, in The Gambia.

These cities will be linked to London Gatwick and Dubai.

The airline will use DC-9s for African routes and DC10s to make bi-weekly trips from Entebbe to Lagos and then on to Dubai.

Political disagreements

Mr Roy also plans to expand to Zambia and South Africa.

"Europe is very competitive, America is very competitive, but Africa is still a virgin land," he said.

The BBC's Will Ross in Kampala says that Africa has a history of troubled state-owned airlines.

During the 1970s East African Airlines, a joint venture by the governments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, was dissolved due to political disagreements between the three countries.

Mr Roy was a pilot with East African Airlines.

Alliance Air, which was jointly owned by South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania ceased operations in 2000 due to financial problems.

Since the 11 September attacks in the United States, several airlines have flown into trouble, due to a sharp decline in passengers.

Joe Roy, AfricaOne chairman
"The basic idea is to get everybody in Africa as part-owners of this airline"
See also:

07 Feb 02 | Africa
Air Afrique finally goes bust
04 Jan 02 | Business
Nigeria Airways halves workforce
20 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Modernising Africa's skies
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