Air Senegal Plans To Fly To The US

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Air Senegal has just announced that they plan to launch flights between Dakar and Washington within the next six months… will it really happen, though?

South African Airways Just Cut Dakar To Washington Flights

South African Airways historically operated 5x weekly flights between Johannesburg and Washington, though the flights had intermediate stops — they operated 3x weekly via Accra, Ghana, and 2x weekly via Dakar, Senegal.

However, as of this month the airline cut their Dakar to Washington flights, instead choosing to route their Washington flights exclusively via Accra.

I’m not sure if they thought that one through, because Global Ghana Airlines is going to give them a real run for their money with their imaginary flight launching next month between Chicago and Accra. By the way, their website suddenly disappeared… anyone else notice that?

Air Senegal’s Dakar To Washington Plans

Senegal’s Minister of Tourism and Air Transport announced this week that Air Senegal plans to launch flights between Dakar and Washington within the next six months. That’s a route that covers a distance of ~4,000 miles.

He notes that with Air Afrique ceasing operations they saw a big drop in visitors from the US, though that happened nearly two decades ago. Clearly this new route would be more of a response to South African Airways cutting the route than something that happened years and years ago.

As far as Air Senegal goes, the airline operates a fleet of just five planes, including an A330-900neo, two A319s, and two ATR72s. On top of that, the airline has a second A330-900neo on order.

I’ve really been wanting to fly Air Senegal’s A330-900neo, which is super cool-looking.

Currently Air Senegal flies their A330-900neo primarily between Dakar and Paris.

On the surface Air Senegal also has the capacity to fly to Washington with their second A330-900neo, but is there demand?

  • Clearly South African Airways couldn’t make the route lucrative enough, even with just 2x weekly flights, and even though they’re in the Star Alliance, and Washington Dulles is a Star Alliance hub thanks to United
  • At the same time, maybe Air Senegal has more loyalty among the local community, given that they’re the national carrier
  • Air Senegal is government owned, so the airline might not even be focused on turning profits on the route, but rather sees bigger value in having a link between the two capitals
  • Delta flies 2x weekly between New York and Dakar, so there is some demand for nonstop flights between the US and Dakar

Bottom Line

As someone who has been wanting to fly Air Senegal, I’m super excited at the prospect of this route. However, I wouldn’t count this route as a sure bet until the inaugural flight takes off.

After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that a government official made an announcement on behalf of a government owned airline about a questionable route, and it doesn’t end up happening.

I also wouldn’t rule this out, though — the airline does have a second brand new A330-900neo and they have to fly it somewhere, so…

What do you think — will Air Senegal follow through with this Dakar to Washington route?

Comments
  1. I haven’t visited Senegal because they started requiring visas for Americans, not because there hasn’t been a good way to fly there. Outbound tourism from the US goes up when visa requirements go away. Just ask Brazil!

  2. Was SAA unable to make Dakar-IAD profitable, or did they find that Accra-IAD was more profitable, inducing them to increase Accra frequencies at the expense of Dakar freqencies?

  3. Why do Americans think they can just walk into another country. Inbound tourism to the US goes up when visa requirements go away.

  4. @Danny The US considers granting visa-free (or ESTA) status to a country’s citizens once the % that overstays their tourist visas goes below a certain threshold. The problem rarely goes the other way – I doubt Senegal has a problem with a bunch of Americans staying over as illegal immigrants.

  5. Not noted in the article is that Air Senegal has the ability to coordinate it’s intra-country flights for more connectivity within Senegal and thus a greater capacity to boost tourism within Senegal than the SAA flight had. Also, with the new DSS airport, perhaps the government wants Dakar to become a transatlantic hub in the very long-term. The country is extraordinarily well-located for onward travel all over Africa, after all, and it will never see that potential if the route is operated in steep competition with a foreign carrier.

  6. It’s not about profitability for Senegal to grow its airline. They are building up a more sustainable and diversified infrastructure in preparation for large oil revenues in the next decade. The national commission set up for strategic planning of oil revenue has said so very publicly. They want to reinvest those profits into developing the country, not into profit generating enterprises

  7. T Prophet:  You make the comment about visas for Americans like you know what you’re talking about… you don’t.  Visas haven’t been required for Americans in 20 years.  I know, I’m American and have lived here in Senegal the entire time and I came without a visa.  There was a short period of time after our current president, Macky Sall was elected, that he instituted a visa program to generate money for the gov’t from tourism, but he rescinded it less than a year later.  I don’t think it lasted 8 months.  So why would you make that up?

    Danny you are correct in stating the obvious arrogance of our citizenry… The US requires visas from Africa, and other countries and generates income from this activity – reciprocal visa requirements are not an absurd gov’t over reach.  Our people need to stop being cheap and help developing and 3rd world countries generate the funds necessary to keep them safe and public areas clean FOR the tourists.  We pay nothing for infrastructure and upkeep when we visit visa free countries, nothing.  When going to european (white) countries though, no one minds paying for a visa.  How’s that?

    Marc Elliot Levy, you are more correct than you know about Air Senegal looking for long term income… the 2022 Youth Olympics will be held in Senegal (the first time any African country is hosting this prestigious international event!) and that’s the main reason they’ve got to get in the game so to speak, now.  There is also a dedicated light rail that’s almost complete coming from the airport to downtown Dakar (55 miles) and the toll roads from Diass airport are flawless and well maintained.  Infrastructure in Senegal is impressive so I have no doubt that if the gov’t says they will do Dakar to Dulles, they will do Dakar to Dulles! 

    The 2nd reason is SAA pulled out and made a deal with Ghana because they are the 2 biggest tourism destinations on the continent and SAA needs somewhere in W Africa to refuel after arriving from the US.  Ghana cut their airport taxes and SAA buys their jet fuel, drops off Ghana passengers and continues on to SAA.  The 3rd reason is SAA is in financial trouble and airport taxes at the new airport in Senegal are high (maybe because there’s not visa program for a lot of countries, not just the US?).  Air Senegal as noted in the article has perfectly good airplanes that can pick up the slack left by South Africa.  Believe me when I tell you, all flights are FULL coming from Dulles and JFK on Delta, Air France, SAA, TAP and all the other budget carriers. 

    SAA used to run a fare for $605 round trip out of Dulles, Ethiopian would do $805, these are yearly fare cuts in Jan/March so there will definitely be a hole in the market.  I for one and ECSTATIC that Air Senegal will be doing this route – I can’t wait to tell my friends when they have their maiden voyage!

  8. GGA website might be down because their servers are in the cloud, and they only have low altitude servers, not high altitude servers.

    Common mistake, I see it happen all the time.

  9. I’m hoping that Air Senegal will also launch a DSS-YUL route. The linguistic ties may make this route viable. I know for a fact that some people from Senegal come to Quebec to study. But I admit that I have know idea how viable the route might be.

  10. I went to Senegal in 2014 on my US passport I had to get an electronic visa and it was kind of a pain. You had to do everything in advance online and still had to queue up at the airport to get your fingerprints taken and have the visa pasted into your passport. Glad to hear this has been rescinded. I might visit again now.

  11. Sal believe you me, in 2014 the citizenry were UP IN ARMS about that rookie mistake by the President!

    It was at the worst possible time as ebola, (not in Senegal) was in only in 3 of the 17 west African countries, CNN, BBC etc were gushing about a ‘Walking Dead’ type epidemic every 15 seconds, Lloyds of London stopped insuring cruise ships and carriers thru the ports if they came to Dakar/Senegal so we lost ALL that business, and THEN the newly elected Senegalese President decides (and I understand the logic, but the business part of it was devastating locally) that because western countries, especially the US require Senegalese citizens to pay about $125 for the opportunity to get TURNED DOWN… for a visa during the application process (because rarely are they granted tourist visas), that US citizens should pay the Senegalese gov’t for visas. Sounds fair right? Reciprocal Visa Programs – what’s good for the goose and all that but in the real world that’s not the way it works.

    If you’re a developing or 3rd world country and you cry foul the media will attack and the gov’t will find an excuse to sanction you. They did both and the Minister of Tourism stepped down in protest as well. I too complained long and loudly to another minister in person and showed how this was going to kill future investment. I held him up for Friday prayer and he wasn’t happy but he listened politely and even took a photo with me! Afterwards he called his friend and boss, the President and I’m not going to take credit but I think it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The NEXT DAY was Senegalese independence day, he was making a speech and rescinded the visa program for Americans and several other large western countries.

    He’s a reasonable man and that was the only logical thing to do because no matter what you tell Americans, French, Brits, etc who require people from other countries to pay for the visa process and spin the wheels of chance, if you are brown or black skinned those same people don’t think THEY should have to pay the same fees. It is what it is.

    The people that who own the sandbox make the rules.

  12. I think JFK-DSS would be more viable. But would still transit to DULLES in order to fly a brand spanking new plane. Who else’s with me?

  13. Malick, what would the incentive be to compete with Delta from New York if they can have the DC market, which historically has been at least somewhat profitable, to themselves? I am not with you on this, unfortunately. It just doesn’t make good business sense.

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