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Business News of Saturday, 2 February 2002

Source: Network herald

ECOWAS Airline Commences Operation in April

ECOWAS' proposed regional airline, ECO-AIR, is scheduled to commence operations in the first week of next April, the airline's co-coordination said last Friday.Yemisi Olusola told journalists in Lagos that the airline's initial fleet would comprise two Boeing 737-300 aircraft.

He disclosed that 750,000 US dollars had already been committed to the operation of the airline, which will be based in Lagos.Its regional network will cover Abuja/Lagos-Lome-Abidjan-Conakry; Accra-Monrovia-Banjul, Dakar, Ouagadougou and Bamako, Olusola said.

The airline will also fly the Lagos-Abuja and Lagos-Port Harcourt routes within Nigeria.The ownership of the airline comprises the private sector of ECOWAS members states (60 percent), national airlines (5 percent), financial institutions (5 percent) and technical partners (30 percent).

Olusola said six of the 15 ECOWAS member states had given the airline flying rights.Officials of ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja said the airline was a private sector initiative being supported by the sub-regional organisation at the highest level.

"We have been lending it support at the highest level...just as we have supported ECO-MARINE (West Africa coastal shipping line) which started about two weeks ago in Lome," they said.

They said the role of ECOWAS in ECO-AIR was to "sustain the momentum in favour of the project." "Our objective is to improve intra-community travel, especially with the problems faced by Air Afrique," they said in an interview.

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