No sooner had news been broken that Air Uganda would switch from their loss making MD87s to the Bombardier CRJ, did more breaking news emerge from the region’s first true low-cost airline, Fly540, that they will also “go jet” shortly.
Fly540 is operating in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, and by October of this year, the airline intends to take delivery of its first Bombardier CRJ aircraft.
According to reliable sources, the ever-more popular short- to medium-range jet will first be deployed on the Nairobi-Entebbe route, where the airline presently operates two flights a day, in addition to operating daily Nairobi-Dar es Salaam flights with the jet aircraft.
The economics of the CRJ are favorable, even when compared to Fly540s workhorse aircraft, the ATR 42 and ATR 72, but offers substantially faster travel times between airports, while matching turnaround times on the ground.
The first of these aircraft in the region were introduced nearly two years ago by Jetlink, one of Kenya’s successful private airlines, and RwandAir also has one of these modern jets on their fleet, all of them operating an all-economy, 50-seat version.
Air Uganda will, according to information available, introduce the CRJ within the next few weeks, and as a result of the growing deployment of this aircraft type, it is expected that a maintenance facility for the CRJs will also soon open somewhere in the region, creating employment opportunities for aircraft engineering staff from east Africa, while saving the airlines long ferry flights to South Africa or Europe.
This latest move towards more modern and more economical aircraft in the region will undoubtedly give those airlines that still operate aged aircraft something to think about. Their passengers, especially on routes where the competition is using newer jets, will inevitably demand younger aircraft or else take their business elsewhere.