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African skies custom-made for Embraer?

The growing airline market in Africa has strengthened Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica's (Embraer) commitment to the continent. The company specialises in manufacturing the small and medium-sized aircraft that are ideally suited to operating between African cities. They do not require such high passenger numbers to be commercially viable and do not need as long runways as larger aircraft, meaning that they can operate on more routes.

An estimated 124 Embraer commercial aircraft operated in Africa in the middle of this year, based in 24 different countries. These comprised 49 Embraer 120s, 38 ERJs, 30 E-Jets and seven 110s.

Embraer estimates that there were 420 business jets in Africa in 2012 and expects this figure to reach 670 by 2022. This means that there is a market for 250 jets for new customers, plus the likely replacement of many of the existing aircraft.

The large and medium-sized aircraft market offers even more scope for expansion. There were 670 planes operating in this category at the start of 2013 and this figure is expected to reach about 1,400 by 2030. As the third-biggest commercial aircraft manufacturer in the world, after Airbus and Boeing, Embraer has the capacity to take a large share of this market.

Kenya Airways, EgyptAir Express and Linhas Aereas de Mocambique (LAM) have all signed contracts for a string of Embraer aircraft. In addition, the new Ghanaian company, Africa World Airlines, has opted for the Embraer ERJ 145 to launch its initial services, between Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. The firm also plans to operate between Accra and Nigerian cities including Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

Support centre

Embraer already has a support centre in Morocco to service aircraft already in operation. It is operated by Air Atlantique and another two such centres are planned elsewhere on the continent. One will be opened in Kenya, where Kenya Airways has ordered 20 E-Jets; and another in South Africa by Airlink, which already operates 11 Embraer aircraft.

Mbuvi Ngunze, the chief operating officer of Kenya Airways, said: "Soon we might be able to announce something substantive from a training point of view. That will bring advantages in terms of timing, costs and flexibility. This is something we are working on, so watch this space. On spares, we are working with Embraer to deliver a service centre, but these things depend on critical mass."

However, much depends on whether the African airline market is deregulated by the continent's governments as agreed. Too many African governments are restricting access to air space and airports to the detriment of their economies.

Embraer's vice-president for commercial aviation in the Middle East and Africa in 2011, Mathieu Duquesnoy, said: "Embraer needs more competition. If deregulation does not happen, the African skies will continue to be dominated by old, oversized aircraft and airlines will not be able to address the demand for better linking of the continent's large airports."

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Title Annotation:Aviation; Embraer Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S.A.
Comment:African skies custom-made for Embraer?(Aviation)(Embraer Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S.A.)
Publication:African Business
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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