The reinstatement of a national airline is part of the Senegal Government’s ‘Plan Emergent Senegal’ (PSE) and is keenly supported by the country’s president, Macky Sall, along with the Senegalese Minister of Tourism and Air Transport, Maimouna Ndoye Seck.
The new airline will start operations in December, when the new Blaise Diagne International Airport in Diass is inaugurated.
At this year’s Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, Air Senegal signed-up for two ATR 72-600s and it intends to operate its network with a mixed fleet as it expands. Initial development will be in three phases – domestic, followed by regional and finally international.
Future plans include acquiring further single-aisle aircraft before flying twin-aisle aircraft once its Paris-Dakar route opens in 2018.
As African Aerospace was going to press, it was announced that Philippe Bohn, formerly of Airbus Group, has been appointed CEO of the new company, with Mamadou Lamine Sow moving to become chairman of the board.
The creation of a new Air Senegal should generate confidence following the failure of previous attempts and the chairman is optimistic about the opportunities and says that the fresh team of commercial, technical and operational personnel have full support from the relevant authorities.
“Failure will be the foundation of success,” he explained. “Air Senegal International’s previous problems resulted from trying to operate with outside partners so that’s why today we have acquired our own assets. We are autonomous.”
He believes that there is enormous potential in West Africa, particularly among the signatories of the Yamoussoukro Declaration, which should liberalise the entire commercial sector.
Created in April 2016 by Senegal as part of its ‘air hub’ project, Air Senegal SA aims to make Dakar the first regional air hub and intends to play a leading role in regional integration within West Africa.
Following a year’s evaluation by a team of experts, assisted by the London-based research firm Seabury, and on the basis of the business plan, two ATR turboprops were selected to serve the domestic network and routes to neighbouring countries. These will be delivered in November and plans for further aircraft will evolve over three to five years, with the intention of acquiring two medium-haul aircraft for regional routes and a long-haul airliner for international sectors.
The objective is to position Senegal as a significant hub, increasing passenger capacity from two to five million by 2023 and up to ten million by 2035.