Start up; Fly West AF aims to introduce a low cost model to West Africa in 2021. Africa is said to be the next aviation frontier and entrance of a low cost model on a growing middle class in the region could not have come at a better moment.
Fly West AF , Richard Powell (pictured above) said “We have a clear technical strategy linked with airline performance and the Dash8-Q400 comes out top at this time. It is important to use the right software tools also and we will have the best tools across the operations to manage the business.
Hear more about what Powell had to say….
- When do you plan to launch flights into the West African region?
RP: We plan to launch flights in Q2 of 2021.
2. From your Banjul base, which routes are you looking into?
RP: We will support the following routes from our Banjul hub, Dakar, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Praia(Cape Verde),Bamako, Freetown, Monrovia and Abidjan.
3. Do you plan to have an alternative hub in the near future?
RP: A 2nd Hub is in our Strategy, we have some candidates and we will negotiate with the countries concerned.
4. What type of equipment will you be using?
RP: The DeHavilland of Canada Dash Q400 is our chosen Aircraft, although we are in discussions with other manufacturers. We have a clear technical strategy linked with airline performance and the Q400 comes out top at this time. It is important to use the right software tools also and we will have the best tools across the operations to manage the business.
5. What made you opt for a low cost model for the West African block?
RP: Our Model comes from our experts experience and knowledge of the region. We must support the move of Africans taking Air Transport which means providing an affordable solution as well as ensuring our Airline is based on the Low Cost Model for Operations also. There are many potential passengers who do not have access to Air Transport and West AF is focused on the passenger and what they can afford, without making them pay for the mistakes of the Airline due to choice of positioning of economic model and their strategy. West AF’s business model is always on the move it adapts because it is flexible in its design.
“There are many potential passengers who do not have access to Air Transport and West AF is focused on the passenger and what they can afford”,Richard Powell Managing Director of WestAF
6. In your view, how will African Aviation change after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Answer: Yes, of course, as in other regions, existing airlines will be severely impacted and passenger numbers will be reduced. However, Covid19 is a chance to remodel the AFRICAN sky, a strong signal to African companies: you have to invent your own world and not copy other models that are now grounded.
7. What challenges do you see in rebuilding passenger confidence post COVID-19?
RP: Showing by performance across the Aviation Value Chain (Airlines, Airports, Air Traffic Control) that they are in safe hands with data presented on the measures and success of those measures as we move forward will help to mitigate this risk. Also, the challenge of ebola was more than that of Covid 19 in West Africa, so 5 years ago we already anticipated the health risk in our Strategy. Of course, health standards are important but not only in times of crisis. We are permanently required to have our own health protocol in the region, to reduce the risk and monitoring information and we work with Government Agencies (e.g UNFPO) to help improve the situation for West Africans.
8. How long do think it will take for African aviation to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?
RP: We are following events closely and although African Aviation as a whole will take a number of years to recover, Regional African Aviation, as elsewhere, will recover more quickly, and with the changes in inter-African trade and tourism, which is quite often ignored, we expect West African Aviation to build progressively with our Strategy to bring Africans to the Sky. Covid 19 is not the only reason for the low competition in the West African Market, high taxes are also partly responsible. We must work together with Governments to look at the bigger opportunity of reducing aviation taxes for Regional Growth, and help the move towards SAATM, as we say ‘Everything is Connected’ .
9. How can African Airlines build resilience to survive future challenges?
RP: By being innovative in marketing their products, understanding the customer through Data collection, providing the best service, supporting the youth employment and entrepreneurs of the future, but of course delivering a Safe and efficient service and linking with other areas to support cross border relationships and finally having fun!
10. Do you think there is a need for African airlines to consider Joint Venture (JV) post COVID-19 pandemic?
RP: Any airline will be prepared to consider Joint Ventures as a Strategy if the benefits are clear for both parties. Our strategy at West AF is to create a franchise with its own personality, FlyWestaf-Conakry or Bissau for example.
11. Any last words?
RP: We have worked for many years on this project with experts throughout the Aviation world and are excited to bring an airline for West African countries to be represented to each other and the wider world. Let’s GO!
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