Regular travelers between Liberia and la Cote d’Ivoire may be sighing with great relief at the new and only alternative to braving the intense, unpaved terrain between the two countries as they have for nearly a decade, since Air Cote d’Ivoire added Liberia to its 19-nation continental route.
Announcing its 19-nation route at a major press conference at the airline’s Abidjan hub over the weekend, CEO Mr. Rene Decurey pledged to make Air Cote d’Ivoire’s the leading airline in West and Central Africa. Established on May 15, 2012 with the help of current Ivorian President Al Hassan Ouattara, the airliner’s initial capitalization of US$5 million investment has already increased ten-fold to US$50 million and is poised to reach US$130 million by the second half of 2014, Mr. Decurey disclosed. According to him, Air Cote d’Ivoire is a joint venture between the Government of Cote d’Ivoire (65%), Ivorian private company Golden Rod Investment (15%) and Air France (20%).
The CEO said the Ivorian leader made it clear to Ivoirians that the development of their country definitely needed a reliable airline that would be able to take passengers in and out if Ivory Coast. He said, President Outtara asked the company’s chairman Abdoulaye Coulibaly to work along with him (Decurey) to put the airline together which they did; and the airline is now taking passengers into several countries in Africa.
Their major challenge, said Decurey, is to build a lasting and profitable company through the continual quest for customer satisfaction, the cohesion and professionalism of their personnel, the destiny of their hub, re-enforced by solid alliances. The challenge requires the company to be flexible, innovative and to engage in corporate social responsibility.
The Air Cote d’Ivoire fleet is composed of three Airbus A-319S (equipped with 12 seats in business class and 96 seats in economy class) and 1 Embraer 170 (equipped with eight seats in business class and 60 seats in economy class). The airplanes are destined for the regional network and company plans is to increase its fleet with seven more aircrafts over the next five years. In 2014, the company foresees the acquisition of two Bombardier Q400s for its domestic network and one additional airbus A-319.
The company begins its Liberia operation with three flights weekly but the CEO promised to increase the number of flights before the end of 2014. Responding to flights flying to Liberia, he said “Liberia is a neighboring country with Ivory Coast and currently there is total peace in the country.” He used the medium to thank President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, describing her as “a loving President” that cares about other countries. He disclosed that the airline is now flying to Liberia four times weekly and that he hopes to expand his flight weekly in Liberia. Other officials of the company include Patrick Kone, Jean-Pierre Chonavel, Director for finance and Human Resources and Laurent Loukou, Director General for Commercial and Marketing.