- The long announced new air connection between Dakar (Senegal) and Johannesburg (South Africa), which flies on to Atlanta (USA) is heading towards realisation. South African authorities have given the final approvals and Atlanta-based Delta Air foresees to inaugurate its first African route on 4 December.
At year's end, South Africa Airways' (SAA) "will lose its monopoly" on Senegal's air connection with the United States, the Senegalese independent daily 'Le Quotidien' happily reported today. The arrival of the US airliner Delta Air will also increase competition on the increasingly important Dakar-Johannesburg route, now only flown by SAA.
For South Africans, Delta Air becomes the first US airliner to fly on the country. The only connections between South African and the US so far are the two routes operated by SAA, from Johannesburg to Washington and to New York. SAA's Johannesburg-Washington route includes a stopover in Dakar.
Delta Air announced its intentions to compete with SAA already in May this year, but noted that the decision was still "subject to foreign government approvals." The South African Civil Aviation Authority last week gave the final necessary approvals to begin flying on the intercontinental route.
According to the US airliner, regular flight services are now scheduled to commence on 4 December this year. Delta Air foresees three flights weekly in each direction and is to operate its new route with a Boeing 767 aircraft with the capacity to carry up to 214 passengers.
The news of increased competition and traffic between the US, Senegal and South Africa has generally been well received. The South African press welcomed a new destination in the US - Atlanta being the world's most trafficked airport with excellent connections to the rest of the continent. 'Le Quotidien' in Senegal foresees a temporary improvement in the lack of air seats between the US and Africa.
Flight services between North America and Africa have so far been very limited, and will remain so even with the arrival of Delta Air. A large part of passengers will still have to resort to a stopover in Europe, far off the track due to the lack of air seats. The bottleneck is even expected to tighten, as 'Jeune Afrique' informs that traffic between the two continents is increasing by an average of 14 percent each year.
Africa remains best connected with Europe, where national airliners connect most major countries with France, Britain, Germany, Portugal or Spain. A growing number of African countries are even reached from Europe by relatively inexpensive charter flights and this year, the first budget airliners started flying on Africa (Morocco). In comparison, flights from one African country to another tend to be more infrequent and expensive.
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