October 14, 2014 / 7:23 PM / 3 years ago

Air Cote d'Ivoire in talks with Airbus, Bombardier

A plane flies over a Bombardier plant in Montreal, January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s national carrier Air Cote d‘Ivoire is in discussions with Airbus (AIR.PA) and Canada’s Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) to renew its existing fleet and provide new aircraft for a planned expansion, the company’s chief executive said.

The company, which launched last year, currently services 17 destinations in West Africa with its fleet of four leased aircraft, including three Airbus A-319s and an Embraer 170. It will open domestic routes next month with two Q400 NextGen aircraft purchased from Bombardier last year.

“We have retained the two companies with whom we continue the discussions, and at the end of October we’ll take a decision on our future fleet,” CEO Rene Decurey said in an interview on Tuesday.

Air Cote d‘Ivoire plans to add three more aircraft by 2016, he said, adding that Boeing (BA.N) and Brazil’s Embraer (EMBR3.SA) had also been involved in the initial talks to supply planes for the expansion through either leases or purchases.

A future agreement would also include the eventual replacement of the four aircraft currently being leased.

“All four constructors propose new generation aircraft...For us it was important to know what these new generations could offer us in terms of fuel consumption, reliability and regarding the comfort of our passengers,” Decurey said.

Air Cote d‘Ivoire is 65 percent state-owned, with Air France (AIRF.PA) holding a 20 percent stake. Ivorian private investors Goldenrod hold 15 percent.

Decurey said the company plans to raise its capital from 25 billion CFA francs ($48 million) to 65 billion CFA francs by the end of the year.

The Ivorian state will inject 20 billion CFA francs and the West African Development Bank will become a shareholder with an injection of 2 billion to 5 billion CFA francs, he said.

Goldenrod will maintain its 15 percent stake in the new arrangement, but Air France has not yet decided whether it will inject capital into the airline, he said.

Editing by Joe Bavier and Keiron Henderson

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