Cabo Verde Airlines Launching Washington Flights

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Cabo Verde Airlines (formerly known as TACV) is a quirky little airline. They’re the flag carrier of Cape Verde, and operate flights to North America, South America, and Europe, as well as to other destinations in Africa. While the airline has about a dozen destinations, they only have a few planes as of now, so most of their routes are operated 1-3x weekly.

Icelandair’s investment in Cabo Verde Airlines

Despite their small size the airline is in big debt, and for a long time they were desperate for new investors.

Last summer Icelandair entered into a 12 month management contract for the airline. Then earlier this year, Icelandair’s parent company acquired a majority stake in Cabo Verde Airlines. They were going to give them some of Icelandair’s 757s, and also help them operate a similar business model to Icelandair’s, making Cape Verde a hub for the region.

Cabo Verde Airlines adding Washington Dulles flights

Currently Cabo Verde Airlines’ only US destination is Boston. The airline used to fly to Providence, though discontinued the route. Well, the airline will now be launching a second US route.

As of December 8, 2019, Cabo Verde Airlines will begin offering 3x weekly flights between Ilha do Sal and Washington Dulles. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

VR692 Ilha do Sal to Washington departing 8:00AM arriving 12:45PM
VR693 Washington to Ilha do Sal departing 7:45AM arriving 6:40PM

The flight will be operated westbound on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and eastbound on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The flight covers a distance of just over 3,600 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 8hr45min westbound and 6hr55min eastbound.

Lots of time on the ground at Dulles…

The aircraft utilization on the route is horrible, given that the plane will be sitting in Washington for 20 hours three times per week. My guess is that the reason for this is that they’re prioritizing banked arrivals in Cape Verde so that they can offer connections.

However, with a fleet of only three planes you’re looking at a limited number of connections, and is that really worth the opportunity cost of that plane being grounded for 20 hours? They could operate an additional route of the same length in that period.

I would guess the answer is “yes,” based on the lack of a Cape Verdean population in the DC/Virginia area. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have by far the biggest Cape Verdean populations in the US, with DC and Virginia having very few Cape Verdeans.

However, the DC-area does have a huge population from other parts of Africa, so maybe it’s more about the connection opportunities beyond Cape Verde, hence the schedule?

Flights are now bookable

These new flights are already on sale, and roundtrip fares start at just over $600. Oddly you can book these flights through online travel agencies, but Cabo Verde Airlines’ own website doesn’t even show Washington Dulles as a destination.

Pro Tip: If you’re a struggling airline, make sure the flights you’re trying to sell show up on your website.

Bottom line

It’s cool to see Cape Verde Airlines add a second US destination. For a while the airline had no planes, so had to wet lease a single aircraft to continue operations. So while there’s some stuff that leaves me scratching my head, it’s nice in general to see the airline headed in the right direction.

  1. The choice of Sal is interesting on the other end too. That’s mainly a tourism destination. The Cape Verdean diaspora would more likely want to go to Santiago Island (Praia). Of course if it’s mostly about connections, either airport could serve the purpose.

    I’m hoping the Icelandair management instills some solid operational strategies. It would be great to have a well run connecting hub on the west side of Africa. Too often it’s necessary to go to Addis for reliable connections. Cape Verde has a rapidly growing tourism industry in its own right too, though I wouldn’t see D.C. as a logical place to develop that from.

  2. you shouldn’t second guess airline intentions. I am sure they have wel-paid network planners and finance guys that know what they are doing and think this is the best possible solution given their current fleet.

  3. Interesting to see Cabo Verde Airlines expanding very fast. A few weeks ago they announced new weekly frequencies to three cities in Brazil’s Northeast (FOR, REC and SSA) and a new route to Porto Alegre (POA), starting 11dec. Flights available on GDS and OTAs but it’s impossible to buy through the airline website for now.

  4. Interesting because Cabo Verde Airlines only serves two destinations in Africa (outside of Cape Verde) from Sal (Dakar, and beginning in December, Luanda). Dakar is already served nonstop from DC on South African, and I don’t believe that there’s that much demand to Angola from DC. Also, the flights aren’t really well timed for connections in Cape Verde, as it arrives there at night and leaves Sal in the early morning. The flight is really only well timed for tourists, who might not want to take a short red eye. So I think that the only conclusion to make is that they are starting this flight only for DC tourists looking to go to Cape Verde??? Which wouldn’t make muc sense since I don’t think that there’s that much of a market for that…

  5. For a 3x/week flight it’s very odd to operate it with one crew.

    It’s a little surprising they didn’t try and find a way to move crews around between IAD and BOS to increase aircraft utilization.

  6. They probably don’t have enough crews to fly their planes 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s easier to start off this way by using the same crew than by having a sizable % of your total crew be floating around in a country 4,500 miles away and having some weather event bring your entire airline to a halt.

  7. Lucky….

    Didn’t think those flight times seemed long enough for 4500 miles. Just checked and it’s a bit over 3600.

  8. The morning time departure from the US is very exciting. I love transatlantic flights with no overnight in the sky. It’s the best way to beat jet lag.

  9. Their planes spend lots of time on the ground on their other routes like Luanda and Port Alegre. Washington is not an exeption here. I’m pretty sure they have reasons for this.

  10. @Airlines geek

    Naw… airline people generally don’t get paid that much. Plus, they screw up all the time. It’s fair and fun to second guess them.

  11. @Rain17 the departure time is actually optimal to avoid jet lag on a transatlantic route. United has a similar departure time from IAD to London & it’s popular

  12. I see you mentioned that tickets can be found at some online agencies but I can’t find any. Do you know which ones?

  13. Cabo Verde while positioning themselves as a relevant tourist market is by far the most gay friendly territory in Africa with quite well stablished and accepted gay associations and events.. Carnival is quite gay…

  14. Second new transatlantic eastbound day flight commenced recently, after ASL “domestic” flight from St. Pierre to Paris.
    Both elected to go daytime all coach configuration rather than upgrade aircraft for overnight flights.
    With 737s coming, this is the shape of things to come.

  15. As someone who frequently travels to Nigeria during its peak season (December-January), I can tell you that finding an affordable flight that doesn’t take an entire day to get from DC to Lagos is a godsend. For the longest, we relied on KLM, Air France, and Lufthansa to get us there. Then in recent years it has been Delta (ATL to LOS direct), United (HOU to LOS), and Ethiopian Air. All of those aforementioned airlines are now selling tickets for $1700 and above, when they used to go for $1100.

    It takes a bit over 13 hours to fly to Addis Ababa and then catch a connecting flight back out to Lagos. Compare that to Cabo Verde whose total flight time (including layover) from IAD to LOS being 12.5 hours. Cabo Verde’s departure and arrival times are not what we are used to, but the pricing and flight time is insanely attractive. It definitely sets the airline up to capitalize off of a market that is underrepresented in terms of affordability. I imagine that they will do very well this holiday season.

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