Gambia Bird Airlines now flying from Sierra Leone to London

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Screen shot of www.Gambiabird.com

Gambia Bird, a German-owned airline has announced that it will begin flights from Banjul and Freetown to London and back. This offers a direct London-Banjul connection that is now unavailable. The Banjul leg will leave on Wednesdays while the Freetown leg will leave on Saturday mornings at 4:00am. The first flight will take off from Banjul tomorrow October 24th.

We are not crazy about the name but this should ease some of the Christmas vacation burdens for those coming home in the December. We just hope they treat folks better than that 4th class service offered by the Astreaus Operators/Kevin Mcphillips.

For reservations go here

  • Luke

    Great, just what we need, another regional airline with no online booking, no fares listed on their website, and no one answering the Airtel number they list for Lungi airport. I did see their plane take-off yesterday, but when these airlines make it so difficult to book a seat, how do they expect to get passengers? Try booking an Arik seat from DKR to FNA when you’re in South Africa. Negative. An ASKY flight from ACC to FNA when you are in Atlanta? Nope. A Gambia Bird flight from BJL to FNA from Berlin? Not happening.

    If you have money to operate a fleet of airplanes, how can you not find the money to operate a functional website?

    I predict Gambia Bird will make it through 2012, and then join Bellview, Slok, and Fly6ix in the West African graveyard of airlines.

  • gambian

    You sound like one if those spoilt “diaspora Africans”. Those of us on the continent still contact our travel agents to book our flights and we excitedly welcome this new airline. We appreciate the “baby” steps that will lead to a much easier process in the future.

    What, you are pissed you cannot book online using your Visa or MasterCard? You are obviously not familiar with level of credit card fraud in our region.

    Take your rant to the folks at BBC or CNN since they have the audience that cares about such empty talk.

    • Luke

      You have a travel agent, but I am the one who sounds spoiled? Where I come from only rich people use travel agents.

      So how do you pay your travel agent for the flight if you are in Beijing, for example, and need to book a flight from Dakar to Freetown, and have no friends in Dakar who can walk over to the agent’s office and hand over the cash? Unless your travel agent takes credit cards, or fronts you the money until you happen to be in a city he/she operates in, I don’t see how using a travel agent solves this dilemma.

      It’s not a question of me being “pissed.” I don’t have a personal stake in this. I’m just pointing out that it should be a no-brainer for any airline that lots of people rely on booking online to buy plane tickets, and that if they want to be able to compete with the likes of Kenya Airways or Ethiopian, they need to get with the program. Credit card fraud is no excuse, and can be avoided easily with simple security measures.

      • Fatou

        I totally agree with you! How can you run an airline that targets diasporians and international clients and not have an online booking system what is this 1900? They need to get with the program Kenya Airways not only offers online booking but online check in as well this airline needs to step up their game

        • Gambian

          This airline is not targetting diasporans!!! It’s targetting people in West Africa that are struggling to get from one city to the next..Those of us that live here, it’s easy to get to a travel agent and book flight (You do not need your own travel agent..LOL)

          Fatou – Kenya Airways is owned by KLM, so not a small time player. They can deploy the latest technology and easily absord the fraud related to credit card processing in our region.

          I do not have any problem with providing credit card payments as an option if it makes business sense. What I am pointing out to you guys in the WEST is that online credit card processing does not make business sense in most cases in our region due to slow internet and the issue of fraud (cough..Nigeria is around the corner)…Heck, DHL does not allow credit card payments in the United States when shipping to West Africa (They ask for Cash on the spot)..

          Please..please, let enjoy and welcome this new airline to our subregion since those of us living here are tired of paying US$600 to fly from Banjul to Freetown (a one hour flight!!)…This credit card issue affects very few people living on the continent, its more of a diaspora africans issue.

          • Luke

            Regardless of who the airline may be targeting, it doesn’t make business sense not to offer online booking. Airlines are in business to fill up their aircraft, not to pick and choose the nationality of their passengers, and by not having online booking, seats will go empty that could have been filled. A Belgian person may have to book a ticket with Brussels Airlines rather than Gambia Bird, even if they prefer Gambia Bird, just because they have no viable way to actually buy a ticket. Why do you think Fly6ix, Slok, and Bellview went under, despite offering the lowest fares? (ASKY might be next, judging by the way they’ve been cancelling flights lately)

            Credit card fraud is not a difficult issue to overcome for an airline, and I promise you that KLM, Lufthansa, United, and all the other big players are not just “absorbing” the cost of fraud. They are preventing it with sensible measures. For example, United has a 2-step verification process when booking with a credit card online. Having someone’s card number and billing address is not enough to book a flight. An easier measure to implement is to just use the rule that the flier’s name must match the cardholder’s name, and the card must be presented when checking in for the flight.

            Credit cards are not just a “diaspora” issue, either. In case you didn’t know, there’s lots of non-Africans taking regional flights in West Africa. NGOs, the UN, and mining companies employ a lot of Asians, Europeans, and North Americans, and those people more than anyone prefer to avoid road travel, since it involves getting multiple visas, and thus can end up being more expensive than a flight.

            I would love nothing more than to see Gambia Bird survive and thrive- obviously more competition leads to better fares for us, the passengers, though, since GB doesn’t even show their fares on their website, for all I know, they aren’t any cheaper than the other existing options!

          • Fatou

            Check your facts Kenya Airways is more then 60percent owned by the Kenyan Government KLM is but just one of the few shareholders that include native kenyans that is not the point of this article i believe Luke haas tried to explain to you the importance of online booking how long do you think they will be in business if the only customers they have are plying freetown-banjul?? Europe is their major market here and the diasporians and expatriates who work in sierra leone i rest my case

          • Fatou

            and FYI Gambi Bird is FULLY owned by the germans great technology nation i stop there online booking is child play to them

  • gambian

    Let’s agree to disagree.

    BTW, the problem with belview, slok etc is not lack of online credit card processing. These airlines had passengers, the problem is they were unable to get their planes to the various airports on time, sometimes being late for days without prior notice to passengers.

    Since a German company owns majority share in GB, we are hoping that the timeliness and efficiency that Germans are known for will make GB different.

    I own a business about 400m from the GB main office in Gambia and given the foot traffic into their office, I do not think they’ll have passenger number issues. If you want to know pricing, just call the local travel agent that is shown on their website.

    In the case of Gambia, they are offering the lowest prices to other West African capitals and the business community is very excited about this new airline. Planes are nice, comfortable, o

  • Luke

    According to my friend in Berlin, their current London-Freetown return fare is £600 ($965).

    Not bad if you’re flying from London, (compare to $1023 on Air Maroc, $1098 on Brussels), although you won’t rack up frequent flier miles, and flying to or from any other European city will be more expensive since you’ll have to purchase a separate fare on a different airline.

    If anyone has info on their regional fares within West Africa, please post them here.

  • Fatou

    corrrection KLM only has a 26% stake in KQ Kenyan Government hold 23% the rest 51% is held by the public shareholders(read kenyans) it has been in existence since 1977 no small time african airline o

  • Lanre

    I think the point made by Luke and Fatou is valid. If Gambia Bird is going to be on the West Africa to Europe route then online booking and credit card payment is a no brainer. And for you Mr “Gambia”, if you claim you are a business person in Banjul then you should be welcoming to the fact that we need to move from the days of cash payment to electronic and credit card payment. The issue of fraud and security for credit card transactions is a minor one that can always be handled with added security features. These airlines fail because of sloppiness in handling things like a functional website and online booking.
    But I also do take exception when you cast aspersion on the whole of Nigeria as related to fraud. What do you mean by: “I am pointing out to you guys in the WEST is that online credit card processing does not make business sense in most cases in our region due to slow internet and the issue of fraud (cough..Nigeria is around the corner)…”? I know the Gambia very well and you are aware that Gambians are no saints. There are thousands of Gambians that are engaged in fraud all over the place especially in Europe where they are engaged in marriage fraud with older women and do also take part in drug smuggling and car theft. So, please lets don’t go to that side as every nation has its own bad apples. Is it not Nigerian and Sierra Leonean Universities that are busy educating Gambians up to this day and they have not defrauded them!
    Also, it seems you have issues with “diaspora Africans” in the west, bla bla blah. What happened? where you denied the overseas visa? And look at the way you attacked Luke as “ranting”. That was not nice at all. Please don’t be rude to others here. My mother is Gambian and there are very nice people in that country so please try to be that way. okay?

  • Gambian

    Fatou – I see you somehow corrected yourself there regarding KQ and KLM. Actual ownership by KLM is closer to 51% but no need to get into ownership structuring debate here, Bottom line is that KQ is majority owned by KLM and has a 100% management services agreement with KLM, so basically a KLM managed sub.

    Fatou – GB is 90% owned by Germans and 10% by a Gambian businessman by the name of Malleh Sallah. So, you go check your facts.

    Lanre – I am a Gambian – American (American citizenship) that decided to come home more than four years ago to contribute to development of our country. So, no visa issues..lol. I just know your type, so please…I am surprised by your rude tone, given you stated that your mom is Gambian.

    You guys can keep focusing on this small credit card processing issue. I and the rest of the people on the ground in West Africa are celebrating the coming into being of this airline and the fantastic service so far. “credit card, no credit card”, we are able to fly to most capitals of west africa now and a lower price and less hassle…Thank you GB!!

  • Gambian

    I forgot to add the following:

    1. Please anyone of you should feel free to start your own airline in West Africa and then hire a team of people to focus on online booking and then “take over the market”..lol

    2. Lanre – Fraud by Nigerians is a serious treat to both business/national security of Nigeria as well as other countries in our subregion. Honest Nigerians as well as other West Africans take this treat seriously, it’s just that we are powerless in stopping this menace at this point…People will not take you seriously if you start comparing this menace to “marriage fraud” by Gambians.

  • Luke

    @Gambian
    Since you seem to have a handle on the regional fares offered by Gambian Bird, would you mind posting them here? I don’t really care about the diaspora issue here, just want to know how much it would cost to fly with them, and since the airline doesn’t show fares on their own website, and doesn’t answer their phones in Sierra Leone it would be very helpful if you could post them here.
    I’m most interested in fares between Freetown and the other African capitals, but others might be interested in different ones. Please share whatever you have.

    Thanks very much for your insight.

  • Andrew

    Hello all. GB is currently working on their online booking system. So don’t worry, it will be up and running soon.

  • Gambian

    Luke – Here you go, from their website 🙂

    http://www.gambiabird.com/42885/Price-List/blank.aspx