Senegal to re-launch air transport

  • May 24, 2017

With a new airport scheduled to open in 2017 and a new airline, Senegal wants to densify its air transport industry. The authorities want to learn from bad experiences to start a real take off of this sector.

From one delay to another, the inauguration of the new Blaise Diagne International Airport of Diass seems to be happening this year. The construction of this second airport of Senegal, launched in 2007 by the former President of the Republic, Abdoulaye Wade, has been subject to several delays in its completion. The works entrusted to the Saudi giant Saoudi Bin Laden Group, will now be completed by the Turkish company Summa-Limak. It was undergoing financial discrepancies with the State of Senegal that the Saudi group decided to withdraw to give way to the Turks who are beginning to enter Senegal. In persuance of the construction of the great international conference center of Diamniandio located some 30 kilometers from Dakar and which hosted the Francophone summit of November 2014, the Turkish were chosen. Moreover, the Turkish head of state, Recep Tayip Erdogan, had already visited Senegal a year ago, carrying several businessmen from his country in his luggage. Moreover, the recent change in the management of the Turkish schools “Yavuz Selim” based in Senegal of the preacher, Fethula Gulen, one of the opponents of Erdogan, following pressure from the Turkish state is revealing of the very dense economic relationships between Senegal and Turkey. Located about 50 kilometers from Dakar, the new airport Blaise Diagne, is a project intended to help Senegal, become a great international hub. As a result of the withdrawal of Saudi Bin Laden Group to Summa-Limak, work is progressing rapidly within four months of resumption (September-December). The former manufacturer preferred to withdraw last year, because of financial discrepancies with the State of Senegal. However, it agreed to outsource all the remaining work (15%) with Summa- Limak. At start-up, the Aibd will be able to accommodate up to three million passengers per year with only one runway. This number can reach 10 million in future with the realization of a second track. “We have an international standard airport,” said Abdoulaye Mbodi, during a site visit of the infrastructure. Already, the second section of the toll motorway that connects this airport with the capital Dakar, realized by the French company, Eiffage, has been delivered. The Regional Express Train is another major project which is supposed to connect the new airport. A market entrusted to the French companies Alstom, Engie and Thales for more than 225 million euros. This line will eventually link the capital to the future airport in 45 minutes.

Air Senegal Sa in 2017

Alongside this new airport, the State of Senegal, wants to finalize the setting up of its airline, Air Sénégal Sa. A company that must fill the void left by the bankruptcy of Senegal Airlines which has not been able to take off successfully. With a privileged geographical position, Senegal aspires to regain its position as a natural hub in the field of air transport, as was the case in colonial times and at the beginning of independence until the 1980s. Unfortunately, with the difficulties of the multinational Air Afrique and the national pavilions that took over, Senegal lost that position. Moreover, in the positioning of the country, Leopold S. Senghor airport has reached its objective limits to treat its two million passengers in the best conditions of quality and comfort and regional airports are no longer up to standard. The Senegalese authorities want the first flight of the new national company to coincide with the opening of the new international airport. Already the negotiations have begun for the establishment of the company’s capital, which is estimated at more than 200 billion FCFA (about 130 million euros). The State of Senegal will be the majority shareholder with an opening of capital for the national private, as was the case when Senegal Airlines was created. For the strategic partner, the name of Royal Air Maroc had been announced. This had provoked some reactions of disapproval in Senegalese business circles. The Moroccans left a bad memory during the strategic partnership in the former airline Senegal International. Even Turkish Airlines had in a moment expressed its intention to join Senegal for this new company. A track that is still being studied on the Senegalese side as well as the Turkish. With these new projects, the international airport Blaise Diagne of Diass, and the airline, Air Sénégal Sa, the Senegalese authorities want to put their air transport in a real take off.

With a privileged geographical position, Senegal aspires to regain its position as a natural hub in the field of air transport, as was the case in colonial times and at the beginning of independence until the 1980s.

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