South African regional operator orders two new airliners

15th December 2017 By: Keith Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Privately owned South African scheduled and nonscheduled domestic and international operations airline CemAir has concluded a $66-million deal with Canadian company Bombardier Aerospace for two new twin turboprop Q400 regional airliners. This follows on from a letter of intent signed between the two enterprises in June at the Paris Air Show. CemAir has also leased a used Q400, which was delivered earlier this month.

“CemAir has enjoyed significant growth in the last few years and this has come from our focused approach on selecting the right aircraft for our operation,” explained airline CEO Miles van der Molen. “The Q400 is a fantastic performer, especially in our environment of high altitudes and hot operating temperatures. It is really an unbeatable turboprop that brings so many jetlike features to ensure a competitive and operational advantage in our market. We see the Q400 as the ideal growth solution for our scheduled and charter operations as we continue to strengthen our relationship with Bombardier. We are working to expand our scheduled operations beyond South Africa and continuing to support new opportunities across the continent.”

The Q400 can carry up to 90 passengers in single-class extra-capacity configuration, or 82 seats in single-class standard configuration (more space per passenger), or 76 passengers in two-class configuration (8 business class, 68 economy class). It can be used for short-haul and medium-haul operations and has a maximum cruise speed (not maximum speed) of 360 knots (nautical miles per hour).

“We are delighted CemAir has selected the Q400 aircraft to expand its fleet,” affirmed Bombardier Commercial Aircraft VP for sales: Middle East and Africa Jean-Paul Boutibou. “The Q400 is the next natural step in the growth of CemAir’s fleet of Bombardier CRJ series and Q series aircraft, as it brings more flexibility to increase the capacity on key routes while [the] aircraft’s superior performance and unbeatable economics support CemAir’s growing market position against competitive forces. The Q400 will open several market opportunities to CemAir on domestic and future regional routes.”

CemAir is a full member of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) and is an Iata Operational Safety Audit-certified airline. Based at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, its scheduled operations serve Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, George, Plettenburg Bay, Margate, Hoedspruit and Sishen. It also carries out nonscheduled operations across Africa and the Middle East. Further, it leases aircraft in its fleet on short,- medium- or long-term deals, which include operational support, full maintenance, and quality and safety oversight, to other regional airlines, resource companies and aid organisations.

In addition to the Q400s, it owns and operates 12 Bombardier CRJ100s and CRJ200s and one (used) CRJ900 regional jet, five Bombardier Dash 8 Q100 and Dash 8 Q300 turboprops, and, reportedly, four Beechcraft 1900D turboprops. The Q400s and the CRJ900s are the largest aircraft in its fleet in terms of passenger capacity.

Bombardier Group is a major world manufacturer of both aeroplanes and trains. (The company supplied the trains that run on the Gauteng province’s Gautrain rapid rail system and was a shareholder in the consortium that owns the Gautrain; however, in August, it was announced that Bombardier would be selling its 8.5% stake to South African group Murray & Roberts.) More than 190 Q series turboprops and CRJ series regional jets are currently operating in Africa or are on order from African operators. The continent has more than 35 operators of the Q series. Bombardier expects Africa to order 550 new aircraft is this category over the next 20 years. The company believes it is well positioned to supply the continent’s growing regional air traffic demand.