Air Senegal fights back Covid: expands Europe, eyes nonstop service to the USA


February 25, 2021 / Benefitting from huge communities of expats living in Europe (mainly in France, Italy and Spain), Air Senegal (HC) is distinguishing itself as one of the most active African carriers. Visiting relatives is one of the reasons many Countries include among those which allow people to fly, while travelling for tourism is almost inexistent.

It’s not for a chance that the Dakar-based carrier is activating (or re-activating) a series of connections to European cities where large communities of Senegalese expats live. The first to enjoy service was the northern Italian city of Milan, where starting from February 17, HC flies three times a week (on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) non-stop from its Blaise Diagne (DSS) Airport hub. Rotations to Malpensa airport (MXP) are operated using one of the carrier Airbus A321-200s (formerly with Thomas Cook) offering a two-class layout with 16 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 149 seats in Economy Class.

Barcelona (BCN), which was served in the pre-Covid era as part of a triangular route Dakar-Marseille-Barcelona using Airbus A330-900s and Airbus A330-200s, has been reactivated this time with a stop in Casablanca (CMN) using Airbus A319-100s in two classes (18 Business and 102 Economy). On March 28, the airline added another new route after Milan, by flying to Lyon (LYS) three times per week from Dakar using Airbus A321-200s with a stop in Marseille (MRS) on the outbound flight from Dakar only. Two more routes to Europe, which were expected to launch in 2020, remain on hold: Dakar-London (STN) and Dakar-Geneva (GVA).

At the end of 2019, Air Senegal was setting up flights to the US. Initially due to start in summer 2020, these have been put on hold following the pandemic. Plans were for connecting either New York (JFK) or Washington (IAD). With a fleet made of just nine aircraft (two A330-900, two A321-200, two A319-100, two ATR 75-600 and one B737-500, the latter leased from Blue Air), Air Senegal does not plan to operate U.S flights with its own equipment. Rather, it is seeking a wet lease agreement with another airline, reliable partner that is “duly licensed by its home country and holds a foreign air carrier permit from the Department” as an official note from the carrier explains.

The airline already ‘used’ Malta carrier Hi-Fly when it started its Dakar-Paris flights (now operated using its own three-class A330-900s) back in 2018, so that it is possible that a similar choice will be made for US-bound services.

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