New Zealand markets closed

Ivorian airline hopes its recovery can take off

The propellers of Ivory Coast's national carrier are once again in motion as the airline returned to runways following a government bailout.

While several struggling carriers have collapsed under the weight of a world in lockdown and aviation giants have seen record losses, Air Cote d'Ivoire has resumed domestic flights following a three month suspension.

They've been able to take to the skies again, says CEO Rene Decurey, because of a 24 million U.S. dollar bailout from the government.

"We had grounded planes with no revenue, but we still had fixed charges like the hiring of planes which we had to keep paying for. We had to continue paying the personnel [...] So we contacted the state, we calculated all our fixed costs for the three-month period which had been foreseen until the end of the month of June, and the state was favorable and supported us."

Boarding and preparations are more complicated than before with, among other measures, passengers getting their temperatures taken before boarding, crews wearing masks and gloves and planes being disinfected before boarding and after arrival.

But passengers doing business in Ivory Coast expressed relief. Etienne Kouadio was on the first flight since lockdown.

"I am really pleased that the flights have resumed because we - our company and our country - needs it."

International flights are expected to resume on July 1 and Decurey said he hopes Africa's greater reliance on air travel will help his business recoup losses faster than in other parts of the world.

Air Cote d'Ivoire, which carried 750,000 passengers last year, was intending to get into the long haul business, but those plans have now been shelved.