Africa is set to see significant growth in its regional airliner fleet, according to the latest market outlook published by Embraer Commercial Aviation on April 28. According to the Brazilian airframer, over the next 20 years, the region will take delivery of 240 new jets in the 70- to 130-seat segment. If this turns out to be correct, it will mean, according to Embraer’s estimates, that the African fleet in this market segment will have more than doubled from the current total of 120 regional jets by 2034.
“Africans are turning progressively to air travel,” said Simon Newitt, vice president of Embraer’s Latin America and Africa and Portugal regions at this week’s Marrakech Air Show in Morocco. “As in Asia, economic expansion, a growing urban middle class, continued market liberalization and regional integration will be the main drivers of air transport demand. With the right-sized aircraft, such as the E-Jets family, African carriers would be able to offer a better combination of capacity and frequency in core as well as low to mid-density markets.”
Meanwhile, Embraer’s study revealed that, as of the end of 2015, only eight of Africa’s 300 airports are connected to 25 or more cities, while 240 airports linked to five or cities or fewer. According to the company, 90 percent of city pairs in Africa have traffic volumes of up to 300 daily passengers yet the current fleet is composed of large capacity aircraft since 70 percent of the fleet has more than 130 seats.
Since approximately 55 percent of intra-regional markets in Africa do not have direct flights and 67 percent of all nonstop markets within the region see less than one daily frequency, Embraer maintains regional jets would make it economically viable for carriers to improve air transport connections. The manufacturer claims to have more than a 40 percent share of the current African fleet of jet and turboprop aircraft with up to 130 seats—amounting to more just over 120 aircraft in service with operators including Royal Air Maroc, Egyptair Express, Kenya Airways and South African Airways subsidiary Airlink.