Africa’s Gambia gets its own national airline as Gambia Bird launches A319 flights with help from Germania

This week saw the launch of Gambia’s new national carrier Gambia Bird. Of the airline’s two European flights due to launch, the Barcelona service will be operated in competition with Vueling from next April as more airlines are discovering the West African country.

With a population of under two million people and covering an area around the same size as Qatar, Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa. It is almost completely surrounded by Senegal apart from a short stretch of coast on the Atlantic Ocean. This week saw the launch of a national airline, Gambia Bird, which has started operations with a single A319 to a handful of destinations in Africa and Europe. The capital, Banjul, is also home of the country’s busiest airport, Yundum International, which for much of the past decade has handled around 300,000 annual passengers. There are non-stop scheduled services to five other African countries, as well as three European countries.

Country City Airline (WF)
Belgium Brussels (BRU) Brussels Airlines (4)
Guinea Conakry (CKY) Royal Air Maroc (1)
Guinea-Bissau Bissau (OXB) Royal Air Maroc (1)
Morocco Casablanca (CMN) Royal Air Maroc (3)
Senegal Dakar (DKR) Arik Air (3), Senegal Airlines (5)
Sierra Leone Freetown (FNA) Arik Air (3)
Spain Madrid (MAD) Air Europa (1)
United Kingdom Manchester (MAN) Monarch Charter (1)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 August 2012
WF: Weekly Frequency

There are also charter flights to Banjul from the UK, Amsterdam and Scandinavia operated by the likes of Condor, Thomas Cook and Transavia.com.

Gambia Bird launches flights with help from Germania

With the assistance of Germania, the German airline with focus on leisure and ethnic traffic, Gambia Bird has finally begun operations from Banjul with a single 144-seat A319. A second aircraft will join the fleet in December. At present, bookings can only be made through travel agents, but a website booking tool is promised for later in the year. According to the airline’s website, the initial network will consist of flights from Banjul to Accra (two flights per week), Barcelona (one), Conakry (one), Dakar (three), Freetown (two), London Gatwick (one), and Monrovia (two), as well as service between Accra and Monrovia, Conakry and Dakar, Conakry and Freetown, and Freetown and London Gatwick.

Karsten Balke, Chief Commercial Officer, explains the company’s vision: “The origins of Gambia Bird stem from leveraging our business model which is founded in highly successful charter operations, to create a scheduled airline. We utilise a lean structure that outsources specialist support functions, such as technical and engineering, to expert providers and this enables us to get on with what we do best – running an airline. Market intelligence told us that economically the West African region is poised to grow at a phenomenal rate over the coming years and, whilst we acknowledge there are significant challenges within the region’s infrastructure to overcome, it is these very challenges that provide the springboard for a successful airline. We are not offering a low-cost airline. Our aim is to build a reputation for quality and reliability via our scheduled and punctual services with a choice of affordable ticket options. Importantly, we want to build an airline that embodies the wonderful warmth of the Gambian people, for at the end of the day it is that total exceptional experience that will make people want to fly with us again and again.”

Vueling announces flights for next summer

Among the 28 new destinations announced by Vueling that it intends to operate from Barcelona next summer is Banjul. Twice-weekly flights are scheduled to start on 3 April, making Vueling arguably the first LCC to serve Gambia.


Comments

  1. Congratulations to Gambia Bird!
    The extremely busy schedule makes the unenviable A319 panting almost all day long trying to catch up with a must on-time performance. The domino effect would be inevitable in case of any unexpected delay which would definitely be mirrored by the remaining flights of the day.
    Monday is the most critical day of the week where Gambia Bird flies six international flights.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*