Yesterday, news emerged that Air Senegal is planning to offer flights between Dakar and Washington D.C. in the next six months. This flight between Senegal’s capital city and the capital of the United States would add to the small list of direct flights from sub-Saharan Africa to the USA.
Within the next six months
According to Benin WebTV, the Senegalese Minister of Tourism and Air Transport, Aliou Sarr, announced that Air Senegal will open the Dakar-Washington line in the next six months:
“I have the honor and the pleasure, on behalf of the Head of State Macky Sall, to announce [to] you, Mayor and the people of Gorée, that Air Senegal will open the Dakar-Washington line in the next six months”
Sarr went on to say that there has been a ‘drastic’ drop in American tourist numbers since Air Afrique ceased operations. However, Air Afrique shut down a whole 17 years ago in 2002 – which seems to be a strange thing to reference in terms of declining tourist numbers:
“The curator of the House of Slaves told me just now that with the disappearance of Air Afrique we have seen a drastic drop in the number of tourists coming from the United States.”
The flight plan
If the announcement turns into reality and the flight goes ahead, then the airline’s new Airbus A330neo would fly the journey. At just over 4,000 miles this flight would take around seven and a half hours to complete.
Currently, the airline only has one of the type, which it took delivery of in March. The second A330-900neo is due sometime this year and, according to Wikipedia, is expected to be deployed to intercontinental destinations in North America and Brazil.
More direct flights between the US and Africa
The announcement adds to the list of relatively new routes emerging between the United States and the African continent. In early June EgyptAir commenced flights between Washington Dulles and Cairo on a 3x weekly basis. It’s been just short of a year that Kenya Airways has been flying between New York JFK and Nairobi – the only direct flight between East Africa and the United States. However, this service has already been cut back due to lower-than-expected demand.
Going against this trend is South African Airways, which cut its fifth freedom route between Dakar and Washington last month. According to One Mile At A Time, Delta will now be the only airline flying nonstop between the United States and Senegal. This occurs twice weekly from New York JFK.
Air Senegal has only been operating for only about a year and a half now. Air Senegal has a current fleet of only five aircraft. In fact, the airline’s only long-haul flight is a daily service between Paris and Dakar. It will be interesting to see if there is enough demand to keep this new route going. South African Airways didn’t think it was worth it.
We reached out to Air Senegal for comment. However, we did not receive a response at the time of publishing this article.