The first direct flight between the U.S. and Ivory Coast could happen next year.
According to Bloomberg, the Ivory Coast, which has seen its economy grow quickly during recent years, is in advanced talks with Ethiopian Airlines but also has interest from Kenya Airways and South African Airways.
More than 400,000 passengers travel from West Africa to the U.S. each year. Currently, South African Airways and Delta Air Lines operate direct routes between the U.S. and Accra, Ghana.
The hope is a direct flight between New York City and the Ivory Coast’s major urban center in Abidjan would lure more investors to the country.
Bloomberg reports the nation’s economy has grown by an average of 9 percent each year since 2012.
“I’m pushing for it to happen, that we have a flight at the end of the year or in January 2018,” said Transport Minister Amadou Kone. “That’s my objective. I’m not saying it will be easy but I’m working on it.”
As TravelPulse’s Janeen Christoff noted earlier this year, making Africa more accessible to international travelers is perhaps the biggest key to propelling its booming tourism industry.
“The growth in air travel to Africa is impressive. However, it is notable that consumer demand and airline investment is greater in travel to African countries from outside the continent than it is between African countries,” said ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager.
A direct route between the Ivory Coast and the U.S. would represent a sizable step toward making the rising destination more attainable.