Airbus and Burkina Faso have initiated talks for the acquisition of three A220-300s for state-carrier Air Burkina (2J, Ouagadougou) by July 2022, confirmed the West African country’s Ministry of Transport, Urban Mobility and Road Safety.

A high-level delegation from Airbus led by Commercial Vice President for Africa Hadi Akoum met with Transport Minister Vincent Dabilgou in Ouagadougou on January 21, 2021. “Exchanges included the acquisition of Airbus A220 aircraft,” according to a statement by the ministry posted on social media.

It said the plan to acquire Airbus aircraft for Air Burkina formed part of a business plan for the partial privatisation of Air Burkina resulting from the October 2020 partnership agreement between the government and US-European investment consortium American Global Development Group (AGD). In terms of this, AGD on January 1, 2021, acquired an 80% stake in the airline in exchange for an injection of XOF250 billion CFA francs (USD449.9 million) for the fleet renewal programme, while the government retains 20%.

“As part of the business plan (resulting) from the partnership with the American Global Development Group, it is planned to acquire Airbus aircraft for our national flag carrier, Air Burkina. It is within this framework that the delegation of Airbus was received by Transport Minister Vincent Dabilgou,” the statement read.

The ministry said discussions centred on technical specifications, and requirements surrounding capacity, crew, and markets.

The minister “welcomed Airbus’s approach, which, beyond the commercial aspect, shared Burkina Faso’s outlook for the sector”. The minister had also expressed the wish for the acquisition to take place no later than July 2022 to enable Air Burkina to meet development needs.

“As a leading aircraft manufacturer we are always in discussions on fleet requirements, the content of these discussions remains confidential,” responded Airbus spokesperson Samsana Ismail.

Initial news reports said the restructuring would involve expanding Air Burkina's fleet to 13 aircraft, including six A320-200Ns or A321-200Ns, three E145s, and three Cessna (single turboprop) Grand Caravans; as well as an ACJ319-100. Long-term route network plans include direct services to Europe. An aeronautical training academy and MRO centre are to be established at the cost of XOF58 billion (USD104.3 million).

The fact that the smaller A220-300 is now being considered reflects an adjustment of plans, likely as a result of reduced traffic demand following COVID-19. With a maximum range of 6,297km, the A220-300 is within easy reach of Europe from Burkina Faso (flying distance to Paris is just over 4,000km).

According to the ch-aviation fleets ownership module, the airline at present operates three aircraft leased from Nordic Aviation Capital, including one E175 and two E195.