West Africa To The United States: What Does The Market Look Like?

The West Africa to United States air market continues to grow. On Wednesday, December 1st, United Airlines inaugurated nonstop operations from Washington D.C. to.  Lagos, Nigeria. Including United, four airlines are all flying nonstop between West Africa and the United States. The other three are Delta Air Lines, Air Senegal, and Ethiopian Airlines. Here is a look at what routes are served.

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Delta Air Lines is the largest airline between West Africa and the United States. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

According to data from Cirium, there are 177 total scheduled flights from West Africa to the United States across these four airlines in December. In total, these carriers will fly 43,682 seats between West Africa and the United States.

Delta Air Lines looms large

Delta Air Lines is the single largest airline between West Africa and the United States. In December, the airline has scheduled 90 flights with 20,812 seats scheduled. This is about 51% of total flights and roughly 48% of total seats. It has the following routes on offer:

  • Accra, Ghana (ACC) to New York (JFK) with daily flights on a Boeing 767-300ER
  • Dakar, Senegal (DSS) to New York (JFK) with four flights per week on an Airbus A330-200
  • Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) to New York (JFK) with three flights per week on an Airbus A330-200
  • Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) to Atlanta (ATL) with daily flights on an Airbus A330-200
West Africa To The United States: What Does The Market Look Like?
Three of Delta’s West Africa routes will operate on the A330-200. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Delta has had a relatively long history serving these markets. In 2006, it inaugurated services to Dakar and Accra. Lagos followed in 2008. Briefly, in 2010, the airline even operated flights to Abuja, Nigeria. However, all of its flights to West Africa have always been scheduled from New York or Atlanta.

Fast-growing United Airlines

United Airlines made a return to West Africa this year. The airline only has two routes to West Africa for now. In December, it will offer 44 operations flying 10,692 seats. United’s scheduled operations make up about 25% of total flights between West Africa and the United States. It holds about a 24% share when it comes to seat count. The following two routes will operate:

  • Accra, Ghana (ACC) to Washington D.C. (IAD) with daily flights using a Boeing 787-8
  • Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) to Washington D.C. (LOS) with three weekly flights using a Boeing 787-8

Flights to Accra were inaugurated earlier this summer. Lagos, however, just launched on Monday, November 29th. Accra was initially supposed to receive daily service in December and January to meet strong demand for winter travel. However, United will permanently make Accra daily from May 2022. United last served West Africa in 2016. From 2012 to 2016, it operated a route to Lagos from its hub at Houston (IAH), primarily using a Boeing 787-8. It also flew to Accra from Dulles using a Boeing 767-300ER from 2010 to 2012.

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An African giant: Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines has its largest hub in Addis Ababa. However, it operates flights to the US from West Africa. The reason is because of the geography of Addis Ababa. The airport there is a hot and high one, meaning aircraft performance is limited. On the mammoth operations to the US, Ethiopian cannot make the route with a full load. It can, however, make it with a stop. As a result, some of its flights run via West Africa.

The airline has scheduled 31 flights this December. This represents approximately 17% of expected operations from West Africa to the US. Based on seat count, Ethiopian plans to fly 8,698 seats between West Africa and the United States, representing about 20% of overall seats. Here is what Ethiopian has planned this December:

  • Lome, Togo (LFW) to Newark (EWR) with four flights per week either on a Boeing 787-8 or 787-9
  • Lome, Togo (LFW) to New York (JFK) with three flights per week on the Boeing 787-8
West Africa To The United States: What Does The Market Look Like?
Ethiopian’s Boeing 787s fly to the US from Lome, a hub for ASKY Airlines, a close partner of Ethiopian. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Ethiopian Airlines has had a historically extensive network from West Africa to the United States. Until 2020, the airline operated some flights to the US from Abidjan in the Ivory Coast to New York, Newark, or Washington D.C. It also served Lome to Los Angeles in 2018 and 2019 and Lome to Houston in 2019 and 2020 (until the crisis hit).

A new entrant: Air Senegal

Air Senegal launched nonstop flights to the United States this fall. Air Senegal is the newest airline to enter this market from its hub at Dakar. In December, the airline has scheduled 12 flights, representing 7% of flights scheduled for the month. The airline makes up 8% of total seats between West Africa and the US in terms of seat count.

West Africa To The United States: What Does The Market Look Like?
Air Senegal’s Airbus A330-900neo flies to the US from Dakar. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

Air Senegal will fly from Dakar (DSS) to New York (JFK) to Baltimore (BWI). The return flight runs from Baltimore to New York to Dakar, allowing the airline to tap into New York City and Washington D.C. markets without dispatching two aircraft. The carrier is running three weekly flights using an Airbus A330neo aircraft.

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