Air Senegal plans to operate flights to the United States on a wet lease basis, with a launch date of September 1st on the cards. The Senegalese carrier has submitted a request to the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) and is discussing leasing, codesharing and interlining with authorized U.S and foreign carriers.
Air Senegal plans to fly to the U.S by September
Air Senegal has been busy expanding its network in the past few months and now has the United States in its sights. On February 11th, the airline applied for authorization with the DOT to start operating flights to the United States. Details on where Air Senegal will fly are scarce, although rumors suggest the airline will focus on New York and Washington D.C.
According to the application,
“Air Senegal anticipates inaugurating service to the United States on a wet lease basis on or around September 1, 2021.”
In the application, Air Senegal estimated it would carry 42,224 passengers over the first year. The DOT has yet to respond to the application, despite Air Senegal requesting a prompt response. If the application is successful, Air Senegal will either receive “scheduled and charter exemption authority for a period of two years,” or it will be granted a full foreign air carrier permit.
The airline will need a wet lease agreement
With a modest fleet of eight aircraft, Air Senegal does not plan to operate U.S flights with its own fleet. With the carrier already expanding its network across Europe, it will need to seek a wet lease agreement with another airline. Air Senegal had been eyeing up U.S flights as early as 2019, but the plans never materialized.
As clarified in its application,
“None of Air Senegal’s aircraft will be used to conduct the service contemplated in this operation; rather, all flights will be operated by the wet lessor.”
A wet lease arrangement (also known as an ACMI) involves leasing the Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance together. This is different from a dry lease, which entails leasing an aircraft without the other trappings. Air Senegal is looking for a reliable partner that is “duly licensed by its home country and holds a foreign air carrier permit from the Department.”
Air Senegal expands its international network
Air Senegal, which has only been operating flights for less than three years, had ambitious expansion plans before the COVID pandemic put everything on hold. This included direct Dakar-London and Dakar-Geneva flights by summer 2020, which have yet to materialize due to COVID.
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However, the airline has recently made progress on expanding its European network. It will launch (or re-launch) a number of routes in the coming weeks. Flights to Milan are set to begin on February 17th, while the carrier’s Dakar-Casablanca route will return for the first time since March 2020. Additionally, the airline will connect to Barcelona from Casablanca and also plans to fly to Lyon from March 28th.
Do you think there will be enough demand for Air Senegal’s U.S flights to be a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.