Embraer sees opportunities for the African Aviation market to develop as countries recover from the pandemic-induced travel slowdown.
Citing that African carriers command only 40 percent of the total African aviation market compared to 60 percent by foreign carriers, Embraer believes that this is an opportune time for African carriers to breakthrough because “they have been losing their market share to larger connectors.”
Even though airlines have shown some organic growth over the years, structural growth impacting how people fly, routes, and volume of traffic still lag, Embraer said during the recently concluded AFRAA’s ASC event hosted by Kenya Airways.
The aircraft manufacturer says that during the pandemic, African carriers have realized they need to adjust their business to be profitable, which means ‘right-sizing,’ operating smaller capacity aircraft to better match capacity with demand.
Embraer says its E-jet family aircraft is suitable for African carriers because it offers reliability, sustainability, and economics.
However, on a continent still very much in love with the notion of a flag carrier, money-losing or not, privately owned airlines offering scheduled services remain something of a rarity.
Embraer highlighted carriers like South Africa’s Airlink which are showing lumbering state-owned airlines how it’s done.
The airline’s strategy has been to operate as a regional feeder carrier, focusing on smaller centers ignored by larger carriers competing on the trunk routes between Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
Noting how the pandemic has changed the market dynamics, Embraer, which recently announced Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) as its launch customer for the Embraer E-Jet passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion program also sees huge market potential for the freighter in Africa.
E-Jet freighters will have over 50% more volume capacity and three times more range than turboprop freighters, says Embraer.
The E-Jet, while it has a smaller capacity than a Boeing 737 freighter, Embraer says the E-Jet freighter is more economical because it has up to 30% lower operating costs than these larger narrowbodies. The E-190F will have a 10,700kg payload and the E-195F will have a 27,100 lb 12,300 kg payload, it says.
In a statement, Embraer says NAC plans to convert up to 10 E-Jets – either E-190s, E-195s, or a mix of both – to freighters and will come from NAC’s existing E-Jet fleet, with deliveries starting in 2024.
NAC, which is the world’s largest regional aircraft lessor, is currently the only customer that has been announced for the newly launched freighter program.