Africa: Air Senegal seeks to establish aviation hub in Dakar with new Flights to Europe

Senegal

Senegalese carrier, Air Senegal is seeking to establish an aviation hub in the capital Dakar as it expands its route network to more European countries.

Air Senegal has announced that it will commence flight operations to both Geneva and London, its fourth and fifth destinations in Europe. The carrier is to lease two 165-seat A321s – 149 economy seats, 16 lie-flat business – for these routes, and also for Abidjan, Casablanca, and Conakry.

In December, last year, it added Dakar to Lagos via Accra; Abuja via Niamey; Casablanca; and Barcelona via Marseille. The carriers is also planning Freetown via Banjul is coming in June.

Clearly, the carrier is focusing significantly on hub-and-spoke, in contrast to the previous point-to-point Senegal Airlines. A highly coordinated hub is an obvious strategy for Air Senegal, partly given its geographic position.

According to a report by anna.aero, Geneva is a market of ~69,000 (Dakar point-to-point and demand to connecting destinations) and it’ll be partly driven by demand from the United Nations. It’ll probably also attract some of Lyon’s ~65,000 passengers, at least non-stop to Dakar, given the two cities are only 93 miles apart.

London is a market of ~108,000 (excluding non-stop traffic to Banjul). It is reported that Stansted was chosen due to no early morning slots at Gatwick, with Air Senegal’s timings (or very similar)

Its timings are, of course, based on maximising connectivity to/from West Africa. Although it does vary a little based on day, Abidjan, Bamako, Banjul, Bissau, Conakry, Freetown, Nouakchott, and Praia are available over Dakar on a two-way basis, with connections within about two hours in both directions.

Air Senegal’s European routes each had 60,000+ passengers before starting. Barcelona, Geneva, and Marseille also had local Dakar traffic averaging 47% of their total. Presumably Marseille (~64,000) and Barcelona (~75,000) – each a good-sized market – will one day benefit from being de-tagged and served non-stop by A321s rather than on a triangle basis by the A330-900.

The figure, below, shows the estimated two-way demand for Dakar and Air Senegal’s eight connecting destinations in the year to November 2019. For fairness, these numbers exclude any non-stop passengers as they’d be less likely to switch. Excluding short-term demand impacts from the coronavirus, Milan (76,000), Madrid (63,000), and Rome (58,000) seem good contenders for Air Senegal’s future European expansion. As is Lyon itself (65,000), but that’s now less certain given Geneva.

Milan stands out. Its ~76,000 is based on ~41,000 indirect Dakar traffic. Air Italy currently operates Milan Malpensa – Dakar four-weekly by the A330-200. However, the carrier is to cease operating. Therefore, it is fair to add its ~78,000 non-stop passengers, meaning Milan is a potential market of ~154,000.

According to atqnews.com, in addition to its European flights, Air Senegal also has plans to fly to the US. Back in September 2019, the airline announced it would be looking to commence flights between Dakar and Washington D.C. within the next six months.

Although these flights have not materialized yet, the airline now has two Airbus A330s, meaning it should theoretically have the capacity to run flights to the US.

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