Capital increase paves way for Air Côte d’Ivoire Q400 acquisitions

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Air Côte d'Ivoire's is set to complete a double digit capital increase during the next 10 days, according to its general director Rene Decurey.

The Abidjan-based carrier, which started operating services in May 2012, is looking to boost its capital to 25 billion CFA francs ($49.2 million) from its original 2.5 billion francs with a mix of current and new investors.

Local press reports indicate that the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development will withdraw from Air Cote d'Ivoire as other investors join in the company's shareholding.

"We will probably not taking part in the capital increase of Air Côte d'Ivoire. Disinvesting is a project at some stage but not right now," says a source at Aga Khan Fund.

Decurey confirms that the Ivory Coast government, which owns 65% in the carrier and Air France-KLM Group that has a 20% stake, will both take part of the capital increase.

However he says no decision has been taken by the Aga Khan Fund, which holds 15% of Air Côte d'Ivoire via Aérienne de participation-Côte d'Ivoire.

Air Côte d'Ivoire may further increase its capital over the next few years as the carrier continues to develop operations, according to Decurey.

"Ultimately, the capital of Air Cote d'Ivoire will reach 65 billion CFA francs," he says.

The capital increase is expected to pave the way for the acquisition of turboprop aircraft for use on Air Côte d'Ivoire's domestic network.

The carrier is set to introduce domestic operations on 1 November 2013 and will use Q400 turboprop aircraft, confirms Decurey.

"We have decided to take two Q400s for domestic operations in November this year. However we have not decided whether those aircraft will be new or used," he says.

Decurey says Air Cote d'Ivoire will operate Q400s from Abidjan to San Pedro, Yamoussoukro, Bouaké, Korhogo, Man, Odienné, Bouna and Bondoukou.

According to Flightglobal's Ascend online database, Air Côte d'Ivoire operates two Airbus A319s on lease from Macquarie AirFinance and one Embraer 170 under a lease contract with Air France's Hop!.

The carrier has agreed to lease a third A319 aircraft in September this year as it continues to grow its regional network in West and Central Africa.