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RwandAir buying two Bombardier CRJ900s

altRwandAir has signed a firm order for two CRJ900 NextGen regional jets from Bombardier, making it the first operator in Eastern Africa to order the model.

The US$89 million deal also includes an option to buy two additional jets, raising the value of the contract to US$185 million if exercised, Bombardier said.

"Our two 50-seat CRJ200 aircraft have performed very well for us and have helped grow our business to the point that we require aircraft with more capacity," said John Mirenge, Chief Executive Officer, RwandAir.

"Based on our experience with the CRJ200 aircraft, the dual-class 75-seat CRJ900 NextGen aircraft was the logical upgrade. CRJ900 NextGen aircraft also provide exceptional reliability and have much in common with other CRJ aircraft. These aircraft will be configured with seven business class seats and 68 economy class seats.

"Other key factors that contributed to our decision to choose the CRJ900 NextGen aircraft are Bombardier's customer support offering and cooperation," added Mirenge.

"In the CRJ900 NextGen regional jet, RwandAir will have an aircraft with the best economics in its class," said Mike Arcamone, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

"The aircraft is the ideal size to allow the airline to connect its regional markets that have become too large for smaller aircraft, but too small for RwandAir's larger jets to serve efficiently."

Including the order from RwandAir, Bombardier has recorded firm orders for 1 717 CRJ Series aircraft (including 268 CRJ900 and CRJ900 NextGen aircraft), with 1 661 aircraft delivered as of December 31, 2011. Worldwide, CRJ Series aircraft are in service with more than 60 airlines and have logged more than 32 million flight hours and 27 million take-off and landing cycles. In addition to airline operations, more than 30 customers operate corporate variants of CRJ Series aircraft.

RwandAir, Rwanda’s national carrier, serves all East African Community capital cities with direct flights, including Kilimanjaro and Mombasa; it flies to Johannesburg in South Africa, Dubai in the Middle East, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo and Libreville in Gabon.

RwandAir is expanding its fleets as its passenger load grows – Mirenge last year said the airline plans to own and operate 18 aircraft by 2020 including a 787 Dreamliner for intercontinental operations.

In August last year the carrier took delivery of a Boeing 737-800, becoming the first African carrier to own and operate a 737 with the Boeing Sky Interior. The delivery also marked RwandAir’s first direct aircraft purchase as its fleet had been drawn from a combination of wet leases, dry leases and the purchase of second hand aircraft.

RwandAir received a second 737-800 in October last year. Its fleet is now made up of two 737-800s, two 737-500s (leased from GECAS), two CRJ200s and a Dash 8-200.

"Two years ago we carried an average of 5 000 passengers per month, and today we carry an average of 15 000 passengers a month," Mirenge said, something he attributed to adding domestic, regional and continental destinations to RwandAir’s route network.

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