EMBRAER SET TO OPEN AFRICA CENTRE IN NAIROBI
Embraer, Brazil’s commercial aircraft manufacturer, used the opportunity last Thursday, when another E190 jet was delivered to Kenya Airways at their Embakasi headquarters, to announce that they will be opening an office in Nairobi in early 2013, aiming to serve a growing African market where the demand for their jets and turboprob aircraft has been growing significantly in recent years.
Nairobi was arguably chosen over other hopefuls as a result of Kenya Airways having become Embraer’s key customer in Africa, already operating a combined dozen of E190 and E170 aircraft. Under KQ’s Project Mawingo, their 10 year strategic plan, this number is due to rise to as many as 31 E190 with 96 seats in a two class configuration and 3 E170, the smallest version of that aircraft family with 72 seats in an all economy version. Nairobi is of course also ideally located on the continent with just four hours flight to either end of Africa as well as across the continent to West Africa. Besides Kenya Airways do Egypt and Mozambique also operate Embraer jets with their national airlines Egypt Air and LAM Mozambique, as do a few other private airlines which use Embraer turboprops.
Alongside the sales office will a fully fledged service center open, where Embraer will stock spares and have service support personnel available to assist airlines in resolving maintenance issues, putting Embraer into pole position to further penetrate the more and more hotly contested market for new aircraft in Africa.
It is not clear at this time if Embraer will establish a maintenance centre directly or otherwise cooperate with private investors or even Kenya Airways, the latter already being an approved maintenance base for servicing their Boeing fleet in house. Additional options include, a later stage perhaps, to install a simulator in Nairobi where Kenya Airways in their Pride Center already operates such equipment for their B737NG’s.
Watch this space for the latest news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation scene.