Air Senegal SA has ordered two ATR 72-600 aircraft in a 50 million euro ($56 million) deal as the new flagship carrier seeks to build up a fleet ahead of its launch later this year, the ministry of tourism and air transportation said on Thursday.
Toulouse, France-based ATR, a partnership between Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo, will deliver the two turboprop planes in November, the ministry said.
Air Senegal was formed in April 2016 with 40 billion CFA francs ($68 million) in the state capital to replace the now defunct, heavily indebted carrier Senegal Airlines.
Senegal is aiming to become a regional air transportation hub with the scheduled December opening of the new Blaise Diagne International Airport located outside the capital Dakar.
Air Senegal will initially fly to Senegalese and West African regional destinations before opening a Paris-Dakar route during the course of 2018.
Airlines have long been a fraught business in West Africa though there have been some success stories, including Ivory Coast’s Air Cote d’Ivoire.
Senegal revoked the air operator’s certificate of Senegal Airlines after it ran up debts of more than 100 billion CFA francs in less than five years of operation.
(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and David Evans)