The now-defunct Air Afrique was a Pan-African airline predominantly owned by several West African countries throughout its existence. As the official transnational carrier for French-speaking West and Central Africa, it filled the void in countries unable to establish their own national airlines and although Air Afrique experienced a gradual decline starting in the early 1980s, it maintained its reputation as the most esteemed airline in West Africa for many years. It was even recognized as one of the top five airlines in Africa. However, a combination of mismanagement, corruption, and the post-9/11 downturn in the aviation industry led to a severe crisis, ultimately resulting in the airline’s liquidation in early 2002. Now, Italian luxury house Bottega Veneta is hoping to revive the airline that was co-owned by a host of countries like Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Senegal, and Cameroon, among others, with a magazine that takes its name from the airline.
The publication, which was imagined by a young collective in Paris, focuses on “Afro-diasporic art and conversation,” as per a press release. “Air Afrique was more than an airline. It was a cultural platform,” shares Djiby Kebe, one of the co-founders.
It was inspired by the pan-African periodicals of the 20th century, and will officially launch with an event that will take place at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on Friday.
“We want to revive the African transcendence that Air Afrique represented. Our mission is to preserve this heritage, to put Air Afrique back in the cultural conversation, and to build on their example of cultural engagement,” said Lamine Diaoune, co-founder of Air Afrique.
To celebrate the launch, Bottega Veneta will also release a range of limited-edition blankets by Franco-Sudanese designer, Abdel El Tayeb, who is also one of the designers in the Italian label’s studio. Specially commissioned by creative director Matthieu Blazy to mark the launch of Air Afrique, each blanket is composed out of the finest wool, silver leather, and shearling from the brand’s archive.