African airline Bestfly is the lessee of the first Embraer E190 offered by ACIA Aero Leasing, but it plans to grow the fleet by another four E190s by 2025. The jets are the first in the carrier’s fleet and are part of its growth strategy out of Cape Verde. The lease deal was announced on November 13 during a pre-Dubai Airshow press conference. Bestfly to lease up to four E190s from ACIA.

ACIA announced the purchase of the E190 in September. The aircraft is currently in maintenance but should be delivered to Bestfly before the end of the year or alternatively in early January. The carrier then needs to prepare for the introduction into service, which will not happen until somewhere in the first quarter of 2022, said CEO Nuno Pereira, with his wife Alcinda as Executive Director. The other aircraft will arrive in the coming years and are part of ACIA’s growing aircraft portfolio.

Bestfly is Angola’s biggest private aviation airline, operating a fleet of Gulfstream, Bombardier, and Dassault corporate jets plus three ATR 72-600s. It announced the lease of another 72-600 today, but the next step into jet airliners is the most significant one. The carrier plans to start developing operations out of Cape Verde, the island group off-coast West of Africa. The country is a growing leisure and tourist destination and strategically located for other countries in western Africa. Bestfly acquired an Airline Operator Certificate for operations out of Cape Verde in June and has started independent operations since October 25.

Bestfly’s management team, with on the left Americo Borges and in the center Alcinda and Nuno Pereira, holding the model airplanes. (Richard Schuurman)

The airline is particularly interested in connecting Cape Verde to Africa and Europe. General Director, Americo Borges, said that Portugal is a key market for the Portuguese-speaking island group, but also Senegal and other underserved markets. Bestfly plans to offer direct services made possible by the Embraer E190 but is also looking at codeshare agreements with other airlines to build up its network.

While not offering a low-cost product, Bestfly still thinks it will offer fares at competitive levels that open up flying to more people. “We want to capitalize on that. That’s why we are investing heavily on the ATR 72-600, which is the best aircraft for us”, says Pereira. Despite the pandemic, his airline was still profitable. “Now we take these aircraft as an opportunity for the next step to grow and expand our company. Our intention is to be the one-stop-shop in aviation in Africa.”

The Embraer E190 will have 98 seats, including twelve Business Class, “to replicate the premium product we offer on our business jets to our common passengers.”

A video interview with Nuno Pereira is here: 

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