MIAMI – FlyWestaf, a regional low-cost upstart, is set to disrupt African aviation by launching out of Banjul (BJL), The Gambia in May, 2021.
The airline is negotiating with investors for USD$20 million in start-up capital and upon receiving it will apply for an Air Operator’s Certificate from The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority.
FlyWestaf intends to operate with a fleet of Dash-8 Q400 turboprops across a route network that will include Bamako (BKQ) in Mali, Dakar (DSS) in the Senegal, Bissau (OXB) in Guinea Bissau, Conakry (CKY) in Guinea, Freetown (FNA) in Sierra Leone, Monrovia (ROB) in Liberia, Abidjan (ABJ) in the Ivory Coast, and Praia (RAI) in Cape Verde.
The airline is also planning on an Algerian operation out of Algiers (ALG) and Oran (ORN) to destinations including Constantine (CZL), Annaba (AAE), Ghardaïa (GHA), Adrar (AZR), Djanet (DJG), Tamanrasset (TMR), Timimoun (TMX), and Béchar (CBH).
A Strategic Plan
The Gambia is only served by foreign carriers following the demise of local airlines Gambia International Airlines (GC) and Gambia Bird Airlines (3G), a fact that combined with the struggles of foreign airlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic could represent an ideal time to launch flyWestaf.
Purchasing or leasing aircraft should be less expensive due to the fact that many airlines are currently suffering from an aircraft glut. The airline is additionally in talks with DHL to conduct joint passenger and freight flights while expecting load factors of around 60% in the first two years of operation.
FlyWestaf also plans on expanding not only on regional service but on the Gambian tourist market, hit hard by the demise of Thomas Cook Airlines (MT). By 2022, the airline has plans to potentially include charters to London and feeder flights to southern Africa within the operational fold.
Furthermore, co-founder and managing director Richard Howell described how the airline wants “to be funky. Africa has a young population and we want to support events that will help move young people around the continent, with links to media, music and film.”
While time will tell, it seems that FlyWestaf is making the most out of the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly heralding a new, strong regional player in west Africa as the pandemic eventually winds down.
Featured image: FlyWestAfDash8Banjul Photo: flywestaf.com