Brazil's Embraer eyes Africa growth opportunities

Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:49pm GMT
 

By Beatrice Gachenge

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Brazil's Embraer sees Africa as a major growth market and targets doubling the number of its jets operating on the continent, a top executive at the aircraft manufacturer said.

The plane maker is hosting a two-day aviation seminar in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, its first in Africa, as it looks to tap the region's fast-growing aviation industry.

"If you look at passenger demand, we see an average growth of 5.4 percent (in Africa) one of the highest we predict around the world," said Mathieu Duquesnoy, Embraer's vice president.

"We are doing this seminar ... to really make sure that our proposition meets the requirements of the African community."

Embraer wants to bolster its order books with purchases from Africa's leading airlines, primarily in the regional aircraft segment -- a significant stronghold for the firm. Currently, 150 Embraer aircraft are operating in Africa and the company wants to double this number.

Regional aircraft business accounts for 38 percent of its total customer base.

Among the African airlines flying its jets are Egyptair, Air Nigeria, Mozambique's LAM and Kenya Airways, said Duquesnoy.

"Looking at the potential it could well be possible (to double sales)," said Duquesnoy.

"We have a strong potential to grow significantly in the regions, again because we offer a product from 30-120 seaters, which meets the expectations of the African airlines."

Africa has attracted several major airlines especially from Middle East and Asia to support the growing trade relations with Africa, a fact seen offering Embraer a low hanging fruit due route connectivity opportunities.

"We see there will be 800 more airplanes in the next 20 years in Africa, of any type. Out of these, 200 would be ... Embraer, so that is where we see strong potential," said Duquesnoy.

Sixty percent of the 200 aircraft that Embraer expects from the African market are expected to be for growth purposes while 40 percent would be to replace aging aircraft.

Duquesnoy said the greatest growth potential in Africa lies in the 90-120 seater market segment.

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