Congo Airways, the state-owned flag carrier airline of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has invested $272 million on four Embraer aircraft.
The new jets, according to the airline, allow it to extend passenger and cargo operations regionally to high-demand destinations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Abidjan. The new order is coming just six months after their first E2 order. This is in addition to their existing two aircraft order for the smaller E190-E2. The four aircraft deal which has a total value of $272 million at current list prices would be included in Embraer’s 2020 fourth-quarter backlog.
Desire Bantu, CEO of Congo Airways said, “We see an opportunity in our market and the crisis we are all facing for Congo Airways to emerge stronger – which is why we are not waiting to place this further order. These new jets will allow us to extend our passenger and cargo operations regionally to high demand destinations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Abidjan. As we prepare for future success, we will have the flexibility, and the right-sized, most efficient aircraft, to serve our customers as the market returns.”
Embraer’s Commercial Aviation Vice-President for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Cesar Pereira lamented that Africa had for too long been thought of as a market of mostly low frequencies and long thin routes. He noted that as airlines start to ramp up their operations, the E2 family of aircraft is perfectly positioned to right size routes previously operated by narrow-bodies while keeping frequencies and adjusting capacity to new levels. “Congo Airways will benefit from the flexibility provided by the common cockpit on the E2 jet family meaning their flight crews can transition seamlessly between variants”, he added.
Embraer, recently when announcing a firm order for ten E195 –E2s for Nigerian carrier Air Peace late last year said having the right sized aircraft is essential for African airlines to be able to return to profits. The OEM said 97 percent of flights within Africa depart with fewer than 150 passengers on board. The market in Africa presents significant opportunities for airlines to deliver the connectivity that the whole continent needs.
The potential that Africa possesses for air services is huge and this has been well-documented over the years.
However, there are several challenges imposed on African airlines that create a uniquely tough operating environment – issues ranging from high taxation, the cost of fuel (which is around 35 percent higher than other regions), and the lack of an integrated intra-African network are just some of the issues facing the regional market
The E195-E2 will be configured in a dual-class 120 seat layout, 12 in business, 108 in economy. An additional 25% capacity when compared to the 96-seat configuration chosen by Congo Airways for their E190-E2s. The E2 deliveries are expected to begin in 2022 with Embraer and Congo Airways continuing to review the potential to anticipate the beginning of the deliveries. There are currently 206 Embraer aircraft operating in Africa with 56 airlines in 29 countries.