Blaise Diagne International Airport is situated near the town of Diass Senegal, 43 kilometres east of down town Dakar. It serves as the main airport for Dakar, replacing Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport which became too small for the city’s needs. Although originally expected to be open at the end of 2011, after a series of delays the new airport finally opened to scheduled traffic on December 7, 2017. The airport is named after Blaise Diagne, the first black African elected to France’s parliament in 1914.
The old airport served over two million passengers in 2017 and so it can be assumed that Blaise Diagne Airport managed in excess of that number in 2018/19. It has one asphalt runway, 01/19, which is 3,500 metres in length, and is capable of accommodating most aircraft types. Regular flights are operated to destinations across Africa, as well as to Europe, the Middle East and the USA.
As well as serving as a hub for local carriers Air Senegal and Transair, other passenger operators at Blaise Diagne include Air Algérie, Air Burkina, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Air France, Arik Air, ASKY, Binter Canarias, Brussels Airlines, Cabo Verde Airlines, Camair-Co, Ceiba Intercontinental, Delta, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Guinea Airlines, Iberia, Kenya Airways, Mauritania Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, TAP, Transavia France, TUI Netherlands, Tunisair, Turkish Airlines and Vueling. Regular cargo operators include Lufthansa Cargo, Kalitta Air and Emirates SkyCargo. Unfortunately some of the more interesting operators only serve the airport at night, but there is still plenty of interest during the daytime to make a trip worthwhile.
Written by Clive Grant. Last Update: March 2020
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|Terminals||The airport has one passenger terminal serving all traffic.|
|Ladder||Not necessary and definitely not to be used.|
|Car/Public Transport||A car is only necessary to get to Spot #4 for afternoon photography. Without a car, the best option is to remain by the terminal and take photos in the mornings only.|
|Restrooms||Only in the airport terminal.|
|Drinks/Food||Only in the airport terminal.|
|Hotels||The nearest international hotel is the Radisson Hotel Dakar Diamniadio, about a ten minute drive away. This hotel is nice and it has a free airport shuttle bus service but it is rather expensive. Other cheaper hotels are available, particularly in nearby beach resorts or in down town Dakar.|
|Season||The best time to visit Dakar is between November and March as temperatures are generally warm and pleasant and humidity is low. It’s best to avoid the rainy season of June to October when temperatures are hotter and the humidity is stifling.|
|Security||Spotting in Senegal is neither supported nor understood and caution is advised at all times.
There is a high security presence of police and armed troops, particularly outside the terminal entrances, and security personnel also occasionally walk to and from the terminal along the raised access roads to get to and from their deployments. Always keep your camera out of sight, and put it away immediately after taking your photos.
|01/19||The prevailing winds are generally from the north, meaning that Runway 01 is most likely to be in use.|
|Spot #1 – Departure Level Access Road South|
|WHERE||On foot, exit the southern end of the terminal at the upper ‘Departures’ level and turn right. Walk far enough down the access road to be sufficiently out of sight of the guards outside the terminal; this is Spot #1.|
|WHAT||Arriving and departing traffic on the runway and parallel taxiway. Most landing traffic on Runway 01 exits the runway at the midway point which is also visible from here.|
|TIME||From sunrise until 13:00.|
|MISC.||The authorities don’t seem to mind you watching the aircraft from here but don’t let your camera be seen. If you intend to stay outside for any period of time, a hat is advisable for shade. If possible, it’s best to check the movements on the arrival and departure boards in the terminal and only go outside when something is due. Flightradar24 is useful for this but be aware that not all traffic shows up on it. All facilities are available in the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Embraer Brasilia turning off at the runway mid point: 500mm
Embraer 175 on the taxiway: 250mm, 777-200F on the runway: 190mm
|Spot #2 – Departure Level Access Road North|
|WHERE||On foot, exit the northern end of the terminal at the upper ‘Departures’ level and turn left. Walk far enough down the access road to be sufficiently out of sight of the guards outside the terminal; this is Spot #2.|
|WHAT||Arriving and departing traffic on the runway and parallel taxiway.|
|TIME||From sunrise until 13:00.|
|MISC.||The authorities don’t seen to mind you watching the aircraft from here but don’t let your camera be seen. If you intend to stay outside for any period of time, a hat is advisable for shade. If possible, it’s best to check the movements on the arrival and departure boards in the terminal and only go outside when something is due. Flightradar24 is useful for this but be aware that not all traffic shows up on it. All facilities are available in the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||737-700: 300mm, 737-800: 260mm, A330-900: 110mm|
|Spot #3 – Air Senegal Remote Ramp|
|WHERE||On foot from Spot#2, continue down the access road and cross left towards the fence over the narrow wooden plank bridge.|
|WHAT||Traffic parked remotely on the apron.|
|TIME||From sunrise until 13:00.|
|MISC.||Do not loiter at this location. Choose a time when there are no security personnel walking to or from the terminal along the access road and walk across to take your photos through the mesh of the fence. When you’ve taken your photos, put your camera away and walk back towards the terminal. All facilities are available in the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||737-500: 110mm, A330-900: 70mm, Embraer 145 on the taxiway: 200mm|
|Spot #4 – West Side Cargo Terminal Mound|
|WHERE||By car from the Airport Terminal, route south along Accès Aéroport, turning right at the roundabout onto Route de L’Aéroport AIBD. At the next roundabout, turn right onto the airport perimeter road and follow this road for about 2km, turning right to park outside the western cargo building. You will then need to retrace your steps on foot, walking back to the south side of the mound at Spot #4. Climb the mound from the south side, making sure you are not seen by anyone, and settle yourself out of sight at the top. This area is very quiet and so if you’re seen walking around here you will be conspicuous.|
|WHAT||Traffic landing on Runway 01.|
|TIME||In the afternoons only.|
|MISC.||If you don’t have a car, it’s best to stay on the eastern side of the airport by the terminal and restrict yourself to taking morning photos only. If you do decide to use Spot #4, it’s best to only use it for traffic which cannot be photographed in the mornings. It’s also better for larger traffic due to the distances involved. If you do drive here, DO NOT park by the mound as in the photograph below as this will attract the attention of the security services. There is absolutely no shade here and no facilities, so bring what you need.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Embraer 145: 700mm|