SA Airlink is acquiring three Embraer E170s and two E190s from ECC Leasing, a wholly-owned Embraer subsidiary. These will start arriving in the first half of 2017.
This is according to Embraer, which on 19 January announced that acquisition of the five aircraft. It comes after Airlink in December 2016 began adding 11 ERJ 140 regional jets to its fleet. These are being acquired from the United States, having been operated by the now defunct Chautauqua Airlines out of Indianapolis. The first two were seen arriving in South Africa on 17 October.
Embraer said Airlink will by the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 be operating 30 Embraer regional jets, including the ERJ 135, ERJ 140 and the ERJ 145 as well as the E170 and E190 (the latter two are part of the E-Jet family that covers the E170, E175, E190 and E195).
Rodger Foster, CEO of Airlink, said, “This is the beginning of the implementation of a well planned growth and modernization strategy for Airlink that includes replacing our current fleet of Avro RJ85s over the next three years. The strategy calls for a total of 13 E-Jets, and we are in the process of sourcing the balance of the fleet requirement – an additional 8 E190s – from the market. The unique performance characteristics of the E-Jet family will enable Airlink to operate within the challenging environment of the region, including short field and “hot and high” operations, while managing capacity and providing for growth.
“The E190’s ETOPS (Extended Twin Engine Operations) capability and range presents Airlink with new market opportunities to address isolated destinations that were previously beyond our reach and in some instances that have never enjoyed the privilege of reliable scheduled air services. Embraer has proven to be an excellent partner for Airlink on our ERJ fleet, and we look forward to the continuation of superb customer support as we enter a new chapter of growth with the E-Jets.”
“Welcoming another operator to the E-Jet Family is always a great endorsement of our aircraft and the Embraer experience”, said Simon Newitt, Vice President, Africa, Latin America & Portugal, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “We are very proud that Airlink will now become the first South African operator of the type.”
At the moment Airlink has 12 ARJ-85s, eight Jetstream 41s, 17 ERJ 135s, two ERJ 145s and four Grand Caravans in service. SA Airlink currently flies between 36 destinations in nine African countries and carries more than 1.4 million passengers every year on 44 800 flights. Airlink has been part of the alliance with South African Airways (SAA) and SA Express since 1997 and although it is a largely privately-owned business, it operates as a franchise of SAA.
Embraer aircraft have been operating in Africa since 1978, when the first Bandeirante turboprop arrived on the continent. Currently, there are 127 Embraer aircraft in operation with 39 airlines in 19 African countries, performing a vital role in connectivity.