Senegal’s flag carrier, Air Senegal, announced interest in starting flights to the U.S., potentially connecting its capitals with flights between Dakar and Washington DC, as announced last week by Senegal’s tourism minister Aliou Sarr, a route that was recently abandoned by South African Airways.
During his visit to the Senegalese island of Gorée, Sarr said, “I have the pleasure and the honour to announce in the name of the state, that Air Senegal will open the route from Dakar to Washington DC in the next six months.” The minister also emphasized that the new route will come along with efforts to better exploit the touristic potential of several destinations in Senegal, including Gorée and country promotions in the U.S..
Air Senegal was launched in 2016 as a state project to make Senegal a regional transport hub in Western Africa, after the previous state-owned carrier, Senegal Airlines, went into administration. The airline currently operates a fleet of five aircraft, including two A319s, two ATR72-600s and a single A330neo which operates daily flights between Dakar and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The airline is set to receive a second frame in the next few months as it is looking to position its base at Blaise Diange International Airport, also opened in 2016 as a regional hub for passengers flight to/from and across Western Africa.
Although Air Senegal has yet to provide any information on when potential flights to the U.S. would commence; the idea is not beyond feasible. The recent departure of South African Airways, combined with onward connection options might make the route viable, taking into account the market made by the large Western African diaspora in the DC area that could potentially be served.
Unlike previous operations by South African Airways, which operated the route twice a week on the way to Johannesburg; Air Senegal is in the position to further feed passengers through Dakar onto other destinations across the Western African nations of Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Gambia. Still, only time will tell if we will actually get to see an Air Senegal A330neo landing at Washington Dulles in the next few months.
By: Jose Antonio Payet