Dubai: Emirates on Wednesday said that it has undertaken the responsibility to develop the yet-to-take off Senegal Airlines, a statement by the airline said.
Following a high-level meeting between Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, and Karim Wade, Senegal's Senior Minister, Ministry of International Cooperation, National Planning, Air Transport and Infrastructure, the statement said, "it was agreed that the Emirates Group will assist the Senegalese carrier in the start-up and post launch phases. The agreement will cover commercial support, technical expertise, training and aviation-related goods and services."
The development comes a year and a half after Emirates gave up the management of SriLankan Airlines following the expiry of a 10-year management contract under which Emirates guided the carrier through a difficult phase, marred by the Tamil insurgency and turned it into a profitable venture.
"Emirates has a strategic interest in Africa and currently operates to 17 points within the continent. The Senegalese government approached us to support the start-up of their new carrier and participate in its future, and we are delighted to add value to the aviation infrastructure of Senegal," Shaikh Ahmad said.
The UAE and Senegal have been collaborating on many fronts. Recently, DP World was awarded the concession to develop and operate the existing container terminal at Dakar. In addition, the Jebel Ali Free Zone is developing a special economic free zone connected to Senegal's Blaise Diagne Airport.
"I am confident these recent associations will strengthen the links our two countries share," Shaikh Ahmad said.
The agreement between the Emirates Group and Senegal comes into effect immediately and is long term.
"Senegal is strengthening its aviation industry and is building a new international airport called the Blaise Diagne Airport. The new, technologically-advanced airport combined with a brand new, modern airline will make Senegal a major aviation force in Africa as well as internationally," Karim Wade said.
Analysts say Emirates has the expertise to groom start-ups.
"Emirates is the right choice for the task. It has the expertise and the know-how. However, it is not clear if the airline is interested in a stake or it's just fees or goodwill services only," a Dubai-based aviation analyst said, requesting anonymity.
"Emirates has the know-how and the expertise to make it a profitable venture. In that respect, the Senegalese have done a smart thing," he added.
This year's Dubai Air Show might not be remembered in history for the highest number of deals, but for a number of significant developments. These include the two deals by Mubadala Development Company — an Abu Dhabi Government undertaking — with Boeing and Airbus to develop aircraft components and become a Tier 1 supplier.
"We want the UAE to become a Tier 1 supplier for our aircraft and possibly become partner in future developments," John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer of Airbus, said.
These agreements will pave the way for local skills development and the development of capabilities that will help the UAE to play a greater role in the aircraft supply chain and later help it to develop its own aircraft.
Both Boeing and Airbus officials said they want the UAE to become a partner in their future aircraft developments. The UAE, aviation experts say, is well positioned to become a major player in the aircraft manufacturing business. It is currently one of the world's leading buyers of aircraft.
Combined orderbook of Emirates and Etihad has already crossed Dh410 billion ($110 billion) in value.
On-site orders yesterday reached Dh47.7 billion at the air show.