Air Transport World

Vive l'Air Afrique; drastic program undertaken by the French government has staved off collapse of the multination-owned African airline. (Air Afrique) (company profile)

Drastic program undertaken by the French government has staved off collapse of the multination-owned African airline. By Anthony Vandyk.

Abidjan-France's drastic program to prevent Air Afrique from collapsing is working and the financial health of the multinational carrier is steadily improving. By dismissing 600 of the 5,600 employees virtually overnight last June, the French team headed by Yves Roland-Billecart successfully implemented the most difficult of its cost-cutting measures-in African governmental enterprises a job, not infrequently obtained through political or tribal connections, is regarded as secure for life. Prior to taking office in early March, the team had met all but two members of the top management, all Africans, go.

The tough actions of the French team were possible only because the Air Afrique board of directors had given 63-year-old Roland-Billecart full authority to take what measures he deemed necessary to make the airline profitable. Roland-Billecart reluctantly took up the required residence in Abidjan after the Prime Minister of France personally asked him to do so. Unsuccessful search

Prior to the appointment of Roland-Bilecart, unsuccessful attempts had been made to find a foreign company to take over the airline and it is understood that discussions were held with McDonnell Douglas as well as with several airlines, including Pan Am and Swissair.

A central feature of the Roland-Billecart program is to increase Air Afrique's revenue-turnover fell by almost 20% from 1986 to 1989-and this partly being done by restricting the operations of foreign airlines at points in the 10 African countries that each holds 7.2% ownerships in the airline-Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Cote d'Ivoire-no longer agreeing to be referred to as the Ivory Coast-Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo. …

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