Togo-based ASKY Airlines plans to add Beirut and Johannesburg to its network by early 2015.
“We have all the bilateral issues cleared with Johannesburg, and we expect to get that secured for Beirut. So either late this year or early next year you will see ASKY in these two cities,” chief executive Yissehak Zewoldi tells Flightglobal.
The two points would mark ASKY’s first expansion beyond West Africa, where it serves 22 regional destinations from Lome, Togo.
Zewoldi says demand for Beirut flights is high because of the “strong Lebanese community in central and West Africa”. He suggests that the Lebanese diaspora in Brazil will also benefit from affiliate Ethiopian Airlines’ fifth-freedom route to Sao Paolo over Lome.
Johannesburg is meanwhile a “natural market” due to the high volume of West African labour traffic routed to South Africa.
ASKY’s existing passenger fleet comprises three Boeing 737-700s, four Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s and an Ethiopian Airlines 737 “which we use during its down-time”. The airline plans to acquire four aircraft over the coming five years, including one next year.
“We will continue using the current types – Boeing 737 series and Bombardier Q400,” Zewoldi says. “The 737-800 is an ideal aircraft for these two points [Beirut and Johannesburg].”
ASKY is also evaluating new routes to Nouakchott in Mauritania, Luanda in Angola and Equatorial Guinea.