19 November 2012
Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace has appointed South African Express Airways as the first authorized service facility for the company’s commercial aircraft on the African continent.
Bombardier made the announcement on Sunday to coincide with the opening of the 44th annual general assembly of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in Johannesburg.
“Our entire customer services team is firmly committed to expanding our presence in Africa at an accelerated pace to support operators of Bombardier commercial and business aircraft,” Bombardier Aerospace customer services president Eric Martel said in a statement.
Johannesburg-based South African Express is a domestic and regional passenger and cargo carrier which, since its establishment in 1994, has become one of the fastest-growing regional airlines in Africa.
The airline employs a full-time staff of approximately 300 maintenance technicians performing both light and heavy maintenance work, and has repeatedly earned Bombardier’s “airline reliability performance” award for the Middle East and Africa.
Bombardier already has a strong presence on the continent, with more than 160 of its Dash 8/Q-Series and CRJ aircraft either currently in service with, or on order by, 40 operators and leasing companies in over 20 African countries.
Raphael Haddad, Bombardier’s vice-president for sales in the Middle East and Africa, who is leading the company’s delegation at the AFRAA annual general assembly, said the continent was poised for growth, “and over the next 20 years, it is predicted that Africa will be one of the leaders in annual economic growth, second only to China.
“Our market forecast for the 2012-2031 timeframe predicts that African airlines will take delivery of 550 aircraft in the 20- to 149-seat segment industry-wide,” Haddad said.
“We are excited by the potential opportunities for expanding commercial aviation in Africa and our role in that development.”
Ramon Vahed, South African Express’s general manager for aircraft maintenance and engineering and fleet development, said that achieving authorized service facility status with Bombardier “will prove to be a significant milestone for the airline and our shareholders and will provide operators in the region with improved access to a sustainable, cost-effective and high-quality local maintenance support service.”