Obscure African airlines - worth the risk?

Old Nov 11, 17, 1:52 pm
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Obscure African airlines - worth the risk?

So I'm planning to head around Western Africa over the next year or so and been investigating tickets for different airlines. Some fine like Air Cote d'Ivoire, ASKY, TAAG(!) etc. Plus of course the major carriers (although Air Algerie rarely seems to show up?) But a few options have thrown up some more interesting airlines like:

Mauritania Airlines International
Fly Mid Africa
Afrijet
CEIBA Intercontinental

and so on. But it seems very little is known about them or even the ability to easily book them. Maybe someone here has tried one or two of them?
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Old Nov 11, 17, 2:52 pm
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Do you think ground travel in Africa will be safer?

(Hint: it's not.)
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Old Nov 11, 17, 3:24 pm
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Well I never said that, did I?

The issue would be whether flights on such obscure airlines can be depended on rather than actual safety...
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Old Nov 12, 17, 1:26 am
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In general, it's fine to fly with them but planes are old, delays and even cancellations are common and you need to plan buffer days between flights (especially if mixing companies on different tickets)

Asky was bought by Ethiopian so that works relatively well.
Air Cote d'Ivoire works as well, my colleagues take it regularly on business trips.
CEIBA still works even though their website is down. Tickets can be bought through local travel agents, at least.

The problem I found is that many connections in West Africa require an overnight stay in their hub. And due to general restrictive visa regimes, it usually means sleeping in the airport. Which is something to be avoided.

Try Rwandair, who opened their hub in Cotonou. Asky flies via Lomé and there you can get a visa on arrival, so you can get a hotel in town over night, if the connection requires this. Also, some Asky flights can be bought as Ethiopian flights as well, which also gives Star Alliance miles. Good luck!
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Old Nov 12, 17, 6:59 am
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Transair based in DKR is reasonably reliable for hops within Senegal. If Arik is till around, they should be avoided like the plague. ASKY as mentioned above has a hub in Lome and is a professional operation. TACV and Binter both serve several West African destinations from Cape Verde and the Canaries respectively.
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Old Nov 13, 17, 12:21 am
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Originally Posted by aroundtheworld76 View Post
Transair based in DKR is reasonably reliable for hops within Senegal. If Arik is till around, they should be avoided like the plague. ASKY as mentioned above has a hub in Lome and is a professional operation. TACV and Binter both serve several West African destinations from Cape Verde and the Canaries respectively.
TACV it seems have cut their network down massively as of late, as they only now seem to fly transatlantic or to LIS :/
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Old Nov 14, 17, 2:49 am
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Originally Posted by rava.stuff View Post
In general, it's fine to fly with them but planes are old, delays and even cancellations are common and you need to plan buffer days between flights (especially if mixing companies on different tickets)

Asky was bought by Ethiopian so that works relatively well.
......
I have flown a number of times on Ethiopian between DXB, ADD, and KIA. Business class was excellent. There was never an issue with reliability of those aircraft with Ethiopian.

Even Air Botswana was fine - but we only had box lunches in economy.
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Old Nov 18, 17, 6:58 am
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Interesting thoughts and opinions, muchly appreciated!
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Old Nov 20, 17, 4:33 am
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I fly through Ghana and Nigeria quiet often nowadays and used to fly to East Africa a lot before. I used to buy tickets online (only ASKY and ARIK allow that) until I ran into the typical problems:
- ASKY had cancelled one of their LOS-ACC flight 6 months prior but you could still buy tickets online. They can rebook you on the next day flight but it means spending a night in the airport (obviously they will not give you a hotel night!)
- all flights are always delayed. The delay can be from 30 min to 30 hours. You never know on beforehand and you never know what's going on.
As such, my advise is: don't plan ahead. Go to the airport and buy your ticket then and there.
Airlines I've flown (and survived): ARIK, DANA, ASKY, AIR PEACE, AFRICA WORLD AIRLINES. And then of course the "normal" ones like Air Maroc, Ethiopian, Kenyan, South African, etc. On 75% of my flights Ethiopian intra-Africa sends a smaller plane than foreseen (resulting in a huge amount of off-loads, or "merged" the morning and evening flight because there are not enough customers. Hence I'm not a big fan of ET ... On their flights outside Africa they tend to have B787's and they're quiet ok.
But as anywhere in Africa: if something goes wrong... You're on your own.
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Old Nov 27, 17, 6:57 pm
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For these obscure airlines, see if the prices 1-2 days in advance are similar to more advanced pricing (most likely, yes). In this case, simply buy the ticket day-of or a day in advance so you can have good flexibility.
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Old Dec 9, 17, 7:41 am
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I do not know if it is "worth the risk", but I am quite willing to do so. Problem is, I can not discover if they even operate. I am trying to ascertain if their advertised weekly flight out of Fortaleza, Brazil actually operates and which connection(s) to Europe (Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam) are possible. their website is unresponsive and multiple e-mail inquiries have not yielded an answer. Does anyone know of the status of this airline and their supposed cooperation with Loftleidir?
I have since heard back from them and they do indeed operate a weekly non-stop to Cabo Verde with a good connection to Lisbon. Prices vary and can be significantly below the competitors: TAP and CONDOR

Last edited by FortHay; Dec 19, 17 at 9:15 am
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Old Feb 23, 19, 5:41 am
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Just did a few of these ‘obscure’ ones...

I booked with Vayama (best option!) a decent C class fare for ABJ-LFW-LBV on Asky and Ceiba. In Abidjan we were proactively pulled aside at boarding and got a nicely air conditioned VW ride to the plane. A pleasant surprise! The Asky plane was definitely well worn but perfectly fine for short hop. Most importantly—on schedule. Served a tuna sandwich and some actually nice fruit.

The LFW transit was pretty brutal as we didn’t have boarding passes for the Ceiba connection. Along with another hundred connectors to other airlines and a transit desk that wasn’t exactly speedy. Eventually we were just told to head to the gate and get our boarding pass there. We got a nice hand written boarding card and only were able to verify our C class ticket after showing them our print outs (was a low tech operation). We were carry on only—I wouldn’t have felt great about our bags making a connection like this.

I was excited for this leg as Ceiba seems such a enigmatic airline without even a website. Most significantly it landed on time. Otherwise was actually a very nice C class 737 cabin with IFE screens and a super limited selection—my kids enjoyed some 1960’s Flintstones. The service was completely awful though it was a huge kick speaking Spanish to the crew on an African flight like this!

Later flew Afrijet for four legs around Port Gentil and Sao Tomé. This is an incredible little airline! Awesome little private airport lounge in both LBV and POG (oil money). Friendly staff and again most importantly all on time or early arrivals. Also easily bookable with credit card on their site (and they answer questions over email and such).
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Old May 20, 19, 4:46 pm
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Any Reports on Air Senegal?

Have family looking at them for a trip to Dakar connecting through Paris and wanted to see if anyone had any experience with them? Not much on the web other than them wet-leasing an A380 for a time.
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Old May 21, 19, 6:56 am
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Originally Posted by duniasafiri View Post
Have family looking at them for a trip to Dakar connecting through Paris and wanted to see if anyone had any experience with them? Not much on the web other than them wet-leasing an A380 for a time.
Not personally, but you can read a very recent review here:
https://flight-report.com/fr/report/...-cdg-dakar-dss
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Old Apr 17, 20, 12:41 pm
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TACV (Transportes Aereos de Cabo Verde)

I
Late 2019 I booked TACV from Lisboa to Sal and on to Fortaleza a few days after. One reason was a simple interest to see the islands, another the (excellent) price and the third, the direct cross-Atlantic non-stop to Fortaleza, my frequent destination. When CORONA escalated, I made my way to Lisboa early (three weeks) and after standing in a long queue, the TACV agent cheerfully re-wrote my reservation for two days hence, at no cost. Problem is, while I was waiting for the departure at a hotel in town, TACV cancelled all flights and now I was stuck in Portugal (I eventually got out to Fortaleza via Amsterdam with Eurojet and KLM). Since then, TACV has offered me a voucher, good for 12 months on the same route. I replied (twice) that I have no way of using this, as it was a unique itinerary and to please refund to the CC used. I got no answer from them, so I challenged the credit card charge with American Express (TACV, curiously only accepts that one). AmEx has since posted a complete credit, but I need to wait and see if TACV will challenge and try and reverse it. Their response will determine if they are worth flying with. Right now, I'd say it's iffy.
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