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West African aviation was dealt a heavy blow in 2002, when Air Afrique ceased operations and the sub-region lost its only transnational carrier.
Based in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan, the pan-African airline had been launched in 1961 as a joint venture between two French airlines: flag-carrier Air France and the now-defunct Union Aeromaritime de Transport (UAT). Two-thirds of Air Afrique's capital was held by an alliance of West African states, ensuring strong political support across the sub-region.
Following its demise, regional powerbrokers came together again in 2004 under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to establish a successor. Their efforts delivered ASKY Airlines, the Togo-based carrier part-owned by Ethiopian Airlines.
Air France and Abidjan may, perhaps, have felt sidelined by the move, but they would not be out of the picture for long...