Air Senegal is the latest carrier to launch a high speed inflight connectivity offering. The Dakar-based carrier now offers GSM and wifi-based connectivity across all of its long-haul flights. The solution, from SITAONAIR leveraging the Inmarsat GX Aviation satellite network, is now flying after a slightly abnormal aircraft delivery process.
Getting to 100% of its long-haul flights quickly is a challenge that Air Senegal met by not having anything to retrofit. The carrier operates only one long-haul airplane today. The brand new A330neo was delivered to the carrier on 8 March 2019. It also appeared in Dakar on 31 January 2019 for ceremonial reasons before returning to Toulouse to complete the flight test process in advance of its entry into service. With the formal delivery last week the carrier launched service to Paris, with wifi as one of the amenities on board.
We at Air Senegal are extremely proud to say we are leading inflight innovation in Africa’s aviation industry, and delivering, thanks to our carefully-considered partnership with SITAONAIR. With our new A330neo fleet, we can connect passengers from Europe with the heart of our country within six hours. These passengers have high standards, needs and expectations when it comes to inflight connectivity and Air Senegal is ready to empower them, thanks to SITAONAIR’s support and solutions.– Philippe Bohn, CEO of Air Senegal
Air Senegal aims to grow its role as a regional connectivity provider across West Africa, serving short-haul destinations with its ATR-72 and A319 aircraft. The company hopes the onward connections to Paris will aid in its continued growth. It will need to revamp its sales process online to attract that business, however. The carrier currently offers only non-stop bookings online; connecting itineraries are not yet for sale.
It also remains unclear if the draw of inflight connectivity is enough to attract passengers to the new service. The carrier competes against Air France with nonstop service on the route; the latter is adding wifi to its fleet but cannot guarantee the connectivity like Air Senegal can. None of the other carriers serving the route even with a connection offer wifi service for the full route.
Adding more planes to the fleet will help, too. A second A330-900 is expected later this summer. That aircraft will also be fitted with the SITAONAIR/Inmarsat wifi solution With the second aircraft Air Senegal aims to offer Sao Paulo flights, with well-timed connections via Dakar.
The A330-900 aircraft are configured with 290 seats featuring 32 in business class, 21 in premium economy and 237 in economy. They also include the Safran/Zodiac RAVE inflight entertainment system at every seat.