South Africa-based regional airline Airlink has signed a lease agreement with Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) for three Embraer E195 aircraft amid capacity volatility in South Africa’s domestic market.
NAC, a leasing firm specializing in regional aircraft, confirmed the execution of the lease agreement in a statement. The deal comes at a time of growing demand for domestic airline capacity in South Africa following the collapse of Comair.
Comair, which ran low-fare airline kulula.com and operated as a franchise partner of British Airways, suspended flights on May 31, 2022, due to a lack of funding. On June 9, 2022, Comair lodged a court application to convert business rescue proceedings into liquidation proceedings.
Prior to its flight suspension, it was estimated that Comair served around 40% of South Africa’s domestic market.
South Africa’s airlines prop up capacity and look to expand regional operations
CemAir, a privately owned south African airline operating out of OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, increased its fleet by up to 20% during the first half of 2022, according to a report by Business Insider South Africa.
As the airline positioned itself to expand operations it took on new aircraft consisting of Bombardier CRJ 900LRs and Dash 8-400s, the report said.
Similarly, FlySafair, which operates domestic flights across destinations in South Africa, intends to expand its operations to accommodate regional services.
The airline, which holds the lion’s share of South Africa’s domestic seat capacity, looks to operate to 10 new destinations on the African continent.
“Regional expansion has been an intention of ours for a while, but we’ve had to wait for the reappointment of the Air Services Licensing Council, which were appointed again on 10 March,” Kirby Gordon, FlySafair’s chief marketing officer, told Business Insider South Africa in a recent interview.
Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA) also announced that it will be increasing capacity to meet demand.
Airlink: the largest Embraer fleet in Africa
Embraer’s fleet is largely comprised of regional jet airliners, which make up 80% of its fleet according to Airlink’s website profile.
With a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, Airlink operates the largest African fleet of Embraer ERJ’s and E-Jets, according to Embraer. According to planespotters data, the airline’s fleet consists of 16 ERJ-190s, 28 ERJ-145s and three ERJ-170s.