Aziz Alibhai is an entrepreneur with roots in Ivory Coast who was born in Tanzania. In 1968, he arrived in the country of West Africa, and he has never left. According to AFP, Alibhai, now in his seventies, is transforming decommissioned aircraft into tourist attractions.
On his property in London, which is situated between a forest and a lagoon approximately 30 kilometers from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, he has purchased crashed aircraft. The property houses both his construction equipment rental business and his football club, Ivoire Academy.
Following the 2010-2011 political conflict in Ivory Coast, which resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people and the destruction of vital public infrastructure, Alibhai conceived the idea to launch this business. Many aircraft were also abandoned at the airport in Abidjan.
With his innovative mindset, he decided to acquire ruined or abandoned planes and transform them into tourist attractions. “It cost me an arm and a leg, but I couldn’t have been happier,” he told AFP.
He acquired eleven decommissioned aircraft and relocated them to the location of his construction equipment rental business. “Some aircraft had to be cut into two or three sections to be transported without completely blocking the road,” he recalled.
Alibhai is intimately familiar with his aircraft, including their names. “We have approximately 11 aircraft in total. “There is a DC-10, three Boeing 737s, three Fokker 28s, two Fokker-27s, an Antonov-12, and a small twin-engine Aztec 23,” he stated.
He explained how he intends to transform the abandoned aircraft into tourist attractions. “I would like to convert them into conference rooms, a restaurant, and if possible, luxurious bedrooms,” he told AFP. “They are easily modifiable; the cabins are insulated, and with a little air conditioning, they could function very well,” he explained.
Among the aircraft, he has assembled is one that once belonged to the airline Electra Airlines. It is engraved with the Greek alphabet. In the former Soviet Union, his Antonov An-12 was a military transport and cargo hauling aircraft.
According to AFP, seats have been removed from the majority of planes for use by spectators in the stands of the Ivoire Academy stadium. There are also some first-class seats on the terrace of Alibhai.
He has additional ideas for giving his damaged aircraft a second life. “Exhibiting aircraft components in a type of museum, showcasing the planes’ most complex parts, is also something I’d like to do,” he said.