By Omar Bah & Awa Macalo
Air France has launched its maiden flight to Banjul connecting the famous tourist destination with the international market. The airline is expected to link Banjul to its global hub at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport with seven times a week flights during the 2021-2022 winter seasons. The flight will be operated by Boeing 777-200 with the capacity of 312 seats equipped with Air France new cabins (28 seats in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 260 in Economy). As part of initiatives marking the launching of the flight to Banjul, the company offered a fare promotion of $580 on Economy cabin from Banjul to Paris round trip. The company’s Banjul maiden flight is part of its route expansion. It is the first time an Air France plane is landing on Gambian soil and it is envisaged to serve as an opportunity for the Gambian tourism industry.
The flight will leave Banjul each day at 6:25pm and arrive in Paris the day after at 5:20am with a stop in Bamako. From the Paris end, the flight will leave at 12am and fly direct, arriving in Banjul at 4:55am. Basically, The Gambia will serve as a potential new route for the respected airline.
“This new flight is a strong symbol of strengthening partnership between France and The Gambia. We do believe the tourism opportunities offered by the beauty of Gambia’s natural sites and this route will undoubtedly promote tourism in The Gambia,” Jean-Marc Pouchol, the company’s vice president Africa commercial, sales and alliance, told journalists at the Banjul International Airport on Monday.
He said customers leaving The Gambia will represent a growing part of their passengers. “This new flight will also reinforce business between the Gambia, France and the rest of the world,” he noted.
Mr Pouchol thanked Gambian authorities for the business opportunity accorded to his company.
“Africa is definitely a strategic continent for the Air France group and despite the unprecedented crisis the airline industry is still facing, Air France group keeps on opening new routes. We are very happy to start this new operation between Banjul and Paris,” he said.
On September 28, 2021, Air France received the award of best airline in Europe by Skytrax, the international aviation rating agency. Skytrax also recognised the airline’s commitment to health security by awarding it the Covid Airline Excellence Award. The third time the company is receiving such a distinction from Skytrax.