With the recent conclusion of President Jacob Zuma's state visit to the West African country, South Africa has pledged to help Senegal develop Dakar as a West African hub, with particular emphasis on exploiting the city's new airport, set to be completed in late 2014.

Senegal and South Africa will pursue the establishment of an MRO facility at the airport, capable of meeting West Africa's demands.

Owing to its strategic positioning, Dakar has been used, and will be used again, by South African Airways (SA) as a transitory stopover on flights to and from the US and hence it is therefore conceivable that SAA Technics would be chosen as the strategic partner for the establishment of the proposed maintenance facility.

South African lessors too have a strong presence in the country with both ACMI specialists Solenta Aviation and CEM Air having been involved at one time or another with Senegalese national carrier, Senegal Airlines.

The establishment of an MRO facility in the region has long been on the cards at both public and private levels. In May this year, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of which Senegal is a part, said it was carrying out feasibility studies for the possible construction of an aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility to serve the region, so as to help offset the costs to local carriers of sending their aircraft abroad to Europe and the US. Arik Air (W3) has also outlined plans for the development of its own dedicated MRO hangar at LOS with Lufthansa (LH) as a partner.