In 1933, at the time of Air France’s creation, Bamako – then capital of French Sudan – did not form part of the company’s African network. Following the launch of Dakar in 1936, attention turned to Mali.
In 1937, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry made a study trip on behalf of Air France and the Air Ministry. The flight, spanning 15,000 km, took off from le Bourget with the following itinerary – Marseille-Casablanca-Tindouf-Bamako-Dakar-Atar-Fort Gouraud-Tindouf-Oran-Algiers.
Air France launched its twice-weekly Paris-Dakar-Bamako service
Passengers arrived in Dakar from mainland France on board a Dewoitine 333 and pursued their trip to Bamako, by Wibault 282. Though the Dakar-Bamako service got off to a difficult start – with only 397 passengers in 1938 - , the Malian station asserted its presence after the war. Bamako was included in the vast local network that Air France structured around the Dakar-Brazzaville route.
During the 1950s, Bamako was connected to Orly via Casablanca with no stopover in Dakar by DC-4 and Constellation; at the time, it took some 15 hours to reach a fast-growing city – a small town of 600 inhabitants at the end of the 19th century, Bamako was home to… 100,000 people in 1960, just as Mali was gaining its independence!
Today, the city, with its 2 million inhabitants, has become one of Air France’s gateways in Western Africa. The city is served by a daily non-stop flight lasting 5 hours 45 minutes by Boeing B-777.
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