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BAE Systems boosts regional jet market share in Africa

  20.11.2008    

BAE Systems announced at the Air Finance for Africa Conference in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia a deal for three BAe 146-200 regional jetliners that are destined for operation with Air Congo Limited of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. 
The three aircraft (msns 2090, 2092 and 2096) will join five other BAe 146-200s that have also been acquired by Air Congo. Operations have recently started from Pointe Noire, alongside turboprop aircraft on scheduled regional services. 
This latest deal into the African regional jet market underscores the growing popularity of the BAe 146/Avro RJ family which in the past 12 months has seen the number of aircraft acquired/delivered to African operators treble from six to 18. 
Including Air Congo, current operators are SA Airlink which has four BAe 146-200s and three Avro RJ85s operating on an intensive domestic and regional international schedule in South Africa, Air Botswana which has two BAe 146-100s and Safair which has one RJ85. 
In addition, a further seven BAe 146-200/300s are reported to have been acquired for African operations with new customers in different parts of the Continent likely to take delivery of some of these aircraft in the near future. 
BAE Systems turboprop aircraft are also well represented on the Continent with nearly 25 Jetstream family aircraft in service with eight operators, the biggest being SA Airlink with 14 Jetstream 41s. 
By early 2009, BAE Systems expects to see nearly 50 aircraft in service in Africa with twelve different operators. 
Speaking at the Conference Stuart Begg, Director Technical Sales for BAE Systems Asset Management pointed out that African airlines are not immune to the serious financial and trading environment in the global air transport industry with passenger traffic down eight percent in September and net losses for African airlines predicted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to total $1 billion in 2008 and 2009. 
He said: “the global credit crunch is making finance for new aircraft deliveries harder to access and more expensive and African airlines have a challenge to find $8 billion over the next three years to finance some 220 new aircraft that represents the backlog that is on order. 
“However, the recent dramatic expansion of the BAE Systems regional jet fleet into Africa shows that African airlines are exploiting the availability of quality pre-owned aircraft to meet their current and future needs. Used aircraft can enjoy an economic advantage over new aircraft by virtue of their lower capital cost and this is particularly true in markets with lower than average utilisations as is often found in Africa.”


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