Air Cote d'Ivoire agrees $114 mln aircraft loan from Afreximbank

Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:58pm EST

* Ivory Coast national carrier to buy two new aircraft

* Plans to open domestic routes in second quarter of 2014

ABIDJAN Jan 10 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's national carrier Air Cote d'Ivoire will borrow $114 million from Cairo-based lender African Export-Import Bank to finance the purchase of two new aircraft, the airline's chief executive said on Friday.

Air Cote d'Ivoire, established to replace defunct carrier Air Ivoire, agreed late last year to buy two Q400 NextGen aircraft from Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier Inc with an option to purchase two additional planes.

"The cost of these two planes is $120 million. We approached Afreximbank, which is in charge of financing and will pay 95 percent of this amount," said Rene Decurey, who added that Air Cote d'Ivoire would pay the remaining 5 percent.

He declined to give further details of the financing arrangement.

Speaking at a presentation in Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan, Decurey said the airline, which launched services nearly a year ago, planned to open domestic routes in the second quarter of 2014.

"These planes, which will be delivered in September and October 2014, will allow us to service the domestic and regional network," he said.

With a fleet including two Airbus A319s and an Embraer 170, Air Cote d'Ivoire currently flies to 13 regional destinations. The new domestic routes will include Bouake, Korhogo, and Ivory Coast's second port city San Pedro.

Decurey said the company recorded turnover of 28 billion CFA francs ($58.36 million) in its first year in operation.

"We're targeting 52 billion CFA francs in 2014," he said.

Air Cote d'Ivoire is 65 percent state owned, with Air France holding 20 percent and private investors the remaining 15 percent.

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