Global aerospace major Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to create a cooperation framework which, in turn, will facilitate the development of the West African country’s aerospace industry. The Côte d’Ivoire government has identified this sector as ‘strategic’ for the country’s economic development.
“We are confident that this partnership with Airbus will contribute to Côte d’Ivoire’s economic growth as well as support us [in building] a stronger framework for industrial development, the creation of jobs and capacity building for our country,” said Ivorian Vice-President Daniel Kablan Duncan. “We are committed to deliver on our vision and make Côte d’Ivoire a hub for aerospace technology in Africa.”
“Collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential to facilitate economic and industrial growth,” affirmed Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury. “Through this MoU, we will work closely with Côte d’Ivoire’s government, share expertise, discuss opportunities and support efforts in building a robust and sustainable aerospace sector. At Airbus, we are committed to supporting the sustainable socioeconomic development of Africa through partnerships such as this.”
The MoU commits Airbus and the Ivorian government to examine means of cooperation to develop various aerospace industry sectors in the African country. The MoU was signed by Ivorian Transport Minister Amadou Koné and Airbus Africa and Middle East president Mikail Houari. The ceremony was attended by Duncan and Faury.
The aerospace sector in Côte d’Ivoire is centred on, and largely composed of, its national airline, Air Côte d’Ivoire. This is based at Abidjan’s Port Bouet Airport and has a fleet of ten aircraft, composed of six Airbus A320-family single-aisle jet airliners (four A319s and two A320s) and four Bombardier Q400 turboprops. The A319s are leased, while the two A320s were bought new from Airbus (replacing two leased examples). It has three A320neo (new engine option) airliners on order.
It operates both domestic and international routes, the latter within West and Central Africa. Its domestic network links Abidjan with five other Ivorian cities, while its international network serves 18 destinations, ranging from Dakar (Senegal), in the west, to Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), in the south-east.
The Air France-KLM group owns 20% of Air Côte d’Ivoire and has trained the airline’s technicians and provided maintenance support. The Ivorian carrier is establishing its own maintenance centre at Abidjan. (However, it has contracted regional rival Asky for the maintenance of its Q400s; Asky also operates Q400s.) An aviation training centre is also being set up, but it is unclear whether this is being done by the airline or the Ivorian government.
Air Côte d’Ivoire is not the only airline based in the country, but it is the biggest. Local operator Ivoirienne de Transports Aériens is an air freight operation with a single aircraft (reportedly a Boeing 727-200F). Aero Corporate is a business and private charter operation. South Africa’s Solenta Aviation (a charter, leasing and maintenance company) has an operational base in the country. All these operations are based in Abidjan.
Finally, there is the Côte d’Ivoire Air Force. This is a very small force. According to the Flight International annual report, ‘World Air Forces 2017’, it had just five aircraft, four of them helicopters. They had all been obtained from France, and the helicopters are all types that are now supported by Airbus Helicopters, having been produced by its precursor companies.