Barely five years since it began operations, Air Cote d’Ivoire has grown by leaps and bounds and has once again blazed the trail in the West African sub region by taking delivery of the first brand new A320 Aircraft fitted with Wifi and onboard telephone connectivity. The delivery was officially flagged off with a presentation ceremony at the Airbus Aircraft Delivery Facility in Toulouse, France on July 17, 2017.
The aircraft, which comes in a two class configuration of 16 Business and 132 Economy seats, is the first of a total order of five A320s, including three A320neo (with one delivery scheduled for 2020 and two more to follow in 2021. It will be the first A320neo aircraft to be delivered directly to an Africa based operator, which will reinforce the fleet of Air Cote d’Ivoire in the coming years.
Airbus Executive Vice President Programmes, Mr. Didier Evrard, outlined the features and benefits of the A320 adding that it is a more fuel efficient aircraft than its main competitor thereby giving the airline considerable cost savings.
“This delivery of A320 sharklets marks a new milestone in the development of Côte d’Ivoire, and more widely in Africa. The aircraft has the latest innovations, notably in terms of fuel consumption and entertainment system and cabin connectivity.
“With a configuration in 2 Classes, Air Cote d’Ivoire covers a wide range of segments. Business Class seats are equipped with Audio & Video On Demand (AVOD). Passengers will have a comfortable and spacious cabin with moodlight and lighting with the latest generation of connectivity to internet access/mobile telephony.
“These performances will be a significant advantage for Air Cote d’Ivoire in its expansion into the West, East and Central African networks and, more generally, as a major player in African air transport with its Abidjan hub,” said Mr. Evrard.
Chairman of the Board of Air Cote d’Ivoire, General Abdoulaye Coulibaly noted that the delivery was a significant event for the airline which is going to be a milestone in its history. “The delivery of the A320 is an important step for the growth of our domestic market and a huge step for Africa.
Mr. Charles Gomis, Cote d’Ivoire Ambassador to France
inspecting the aircraft before delivery
This is the first time that an aircraft like this is being bought by an airline South of Sub-Sahara Africa and I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this success especially the President of Cote D’Ivoire who is a visionary leader that has given us the means to grow the airline,” he stressed. “The aircraft is equipped with very good wifi connectivity onboard allowing customers to use the internet and to make phone calls onboard.”
Representative of the Minister of Transport of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Soro Bakary said: “This is an efficient aircraft that will bring value to our existing fleet. It will be a milestone for our future. Thanks to Air Cote d’Ivoire we have the technical skills and equipment to deliver our dreams. Our airline will become a reference for West Africa and a leader in the region,” adding that: “Air Cote d’Ivoire contributes 40% of the traffic from Abidjan airport which currently stands at 1.8 million passengers in 2016. And we hope to grow that figure to 2 million by the end of 2017.”
Mr. Rene Decurey, the Managing Director of the Airline expressed gratitude to everyone that had found the time to attend the delivery ceremony which he said was a significant step in the development of the airline.
“When we started the process about 31 months ago it was a challenge at that time because our young African Airline set up 5 years ago has been confronted with many misconceptions which face aviation in our continent because some airlines in Africa are seen as unreliable and don’t have trained staff. In five years however, we have been able to establish our hub in Abidjan with 10 aircraft flying into a network of 24 domestic and regional destinations.”
Speaking further, Mr. Decurey said; “We wanted to be different from our competitors, to be the most reliable airline of our continent and we needed a young fleet to accomplish this. So we chose the Airbus A320 that are spacious and reliable with comfortable seats.
“Thanks to the commitment of our partners, the Chairman of the Board, and Airbus who accepted to go through with us, this is now a dream come true. We needed a lot of patience and understanding and Airbus have been patient and made this possible.
“This is the first time we have been able to take part in the design and production of an aircraft. But our growth doesn’t only mean purchasing a new aircraft, but we also have to think of maintenance. To this end therefore, we have a training module for 15 of our pilots and engineers in order to ensure that we remain skilled and competent as a way of sustaining our growth and reliability,” Mr. Decurey assured.