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Airbus leads the way into African market

Posted 30 August 2019 · Add Comment

The days have gone when African airlines were forced to struggle with aging aircraft. Kaleyesus Bekele has been finding out more from Airbus.

In the past, with some notable exceptions, many African carriers used to operate rickety aircraft that were prone to accidents and incidents.
Operators were wary of the price of new aircraft. However, operating an aging fleet could be more expensive as the aircraft created higher fuel and maintenance costs.
This has changed considerably in recent years. Today, African carriers, both private and state-owned, are acquiring modern jet and turboprop aircraft, which are fuel-efficient and offer comfort to passengers.
This has prompted the leading global aircraft manufacturers to explore the African market, with Airbus very much to the fore.
At the Airbus innovation days on May 21-22 in Toulouse, France, Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer, confirmed that the company is looking at potential markets in Africa for its new jetliners.
Scherer said Airbus has the single-aisle A220 and A320 jetliners to offer for the east African market. “We have the A220 for Kenya Airways, which has a very good performance in hot environments,” he noted.
According to Scherer, Airbus has started talks with Nigerian airlines. “Nigeria is a significant market. We have several discussions in Nigeria going on for A220 and A320 family prospects. The economic characteristics of Nigeria make it very promising growth market for us. We have a team in Nigeria right now,” he said.
Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, and Uganda are among the list of countries in the process of relaunching their defunct national carriers.
Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, and Tanzania recently acquired Airbus aircraft. RwandAir and start-up, Uganda Airlines, acquired A330s, while Air Senegal became the first carrier in Africa to operate A330NEO.
Air Tanzania was the first carrier in the continent to acquire the new twin-engine A220 jet in February 2019.
Ethiopian Airlines, which is the launch customer for the A350 in Africa, is operating 12 A350-900s and has 14 more on order. Air Mauritius, which also operates the A350, recently took delivery of its first A330-900NEO.
“The potential in Africa is huge,” said Hadi Akoum, Airbus vice president, sales for sub-Sahara Africa & the Indian Ocean islands. “African countries have realised the advantage of operating new aircraft,” he added.
Akoum noted that Airbus aircraft are equipped with advanced technologies and have less fuel burn. “If you look at our A320, A350 and A330 aircraft they can be maintained faster and cheaper. Our aircraft have performed remarkably at high and hot airports in Africa. The A350 and A330 demonstrated brilliant take-off capability at Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Kigali and Johannesburg airports.”
Akoum said that Airbus wanted to support African airlines interested in developing their aviation industries. “We are working with many African airlines. We are also working with African governments. We are not really focusing on the market share but we rather want to help countries relaunch their national carriers in an efficient manner,” he said.
To date, Airbus had received 279 commercial aircraft orders from African airlines. Of these, 240 are presently in service with 37 operators.

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