Airbus Eyes New Narrowbody Opportunities in Africa

 - May 24, 2019, 10:01 AM

Airbus is exploring new market potential in Africa for its A220 and A320neo narrowbodies, chief commercial officer Christian Scherer told journalists in Toulouse at the company’s recent Innovation Days event. So far having placed A220s with Kenya Airways and Air Tanzania, Airbus has now turned much of its attention to western Africa as it looks to spread its influence throughout the continent. 

The Airbus sales boss revealed the company has begun talks with Nigerian airlines over the potential placement of both models, promoting the A220 in particular as a top performer in hot environments. “Nigeria is a significant market. We have several discussions in Nigeria going on for A220 and A320 family prospects in this great country,” said Scherer. “Economic characteristics of Nigeria make it a very promising growth market for us. We have a team in Nigeria right now.”  

Several African countries have begun efforts to revive their national carriers, and Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, and Tanzania recently acquired Airbus aircraft. RwandAir and start-up Uganda Airlines have taken A330s while Air Senegal became the first carrier in Africa to operate A320neos. Air Tanzania in January became the first carrier in the continent to fly the A220.

Ethiopian Airlines—the launch customer for the A350 in Africa—expects to take delivery of its 12th A350-900 imminently. Air Mauritius, which also operates the A350, recently took delivery of its first A330-900neo last month.

“The potential in Africa is huge,” said Hadi Akoum, Airbus vice president of sales for sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. “We are working with many African airlines. We are also working with African governments, which are relaunching their national carriers. We are not really focusing on market share but we rather want to help African countries relaunch their national carriers in an efficient manner,” he said.

"Financing remains one of the biggest challenges for governments and the private sector, making European Credit Agency support particularly important for aircraft purchases in Africa,” concluded Akoum.