Friday, 1 March 2013

West Africa via Banjul

Full article in JPG format: page 41 & page 42

Air connectivity in West Africa has been in dire straits ever since Air Afrique, the transnational carrier part-owned by Air France, filed for bankruptcy in 2002. While numerous small airlines have sprung up across the sub-region, their modest fleets have only succeeded in creating a patchwork of overlapping services – lacking the scale and cohesiveness needed to bind together West Africa's economic hubs. On routes such as Conakry, Guinea to Accra, Ghana (1,000 miles), detours of 6,000 miles via Paris are commonplace.

For travellers in the sub-region, the root causes are depressingly familiar. Weak infrastructure, high airport taxes and dubious management strategies have all played a part in slowing progress in the aviation sector. Nor are foreign airlines in any rush to change the status quo. The four main European carriers serving Africa – Brussels Airlines, British Airways, Air France and KLM – all enjoy high demand among West Africans due to limited competition from regional players...