Air Afrique was a Pan-African airline, that was mainly owned by many West African countries for most of its history. It was established as the official transnational carrier for francophone West and Central Africa, because many of these countries did not have the capability to create and maintain a national airline. It was headquartered in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Air Afrique began a steady decline in the early 1980s, yet the company was considered one of the top five airlines of Africa still in 2001. Mismanagement, corruption, and the downturn in the aviation industry after the 11 September 2001 attacks led the airline to a crisis that ended with its liquidation in early 2002. Air France took over most of Air Afrique routes.
Air Afrique was originally conceived in 1960 as a joint subsidiary of Air France and Union Aeromaritime de Transport (UAT) to take over the regional services these airlines had operated in Africa. It was registered as Air Afrique (Société de Transports Aériens en Afrique), and effectively founded in 1961 as a joint venture between Air France and UAT, and eleven newly independent former French colonies in West Africa, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, the Republic of the Congo and Senegal. Cameroon withdrew in 1971 and founded its own airline, and so did Gabon in 1976.