Aviation firms spread wings in Africa to bring better air services
The footprint in Africa of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China has grown as its presence has expanded in 10 national markets, with its products used by flag carriers, government operators and others. The latest big push was during the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, held in November in the southern port city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province.
There, a deal for delivery of three Chinese-built ARJ21 planes was sealed by the Republic of Congo, also known as CongoBrazzaville, the first African country to order the new plane.
ARJ21 is short for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century, a new, twin-engine turbofan for a short- to medium-range jet. The plane is built by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd, in which AVIC is a major shareholder.
Congo’s Ministry of Transport signed a purchase agreement for three ARJ21-700 aircraft, including two regional jet models and one business aircraft.
“The ARJ21-700 is made in accordance with the international airworthiness standards, which is an aircraft with wide market adaptability and excellent range coverage capability, and is very suitable for operations in Africa,” according to a Congo government official quoted by the World Civil Aviation Resource Net, wcarn.com.
The ARJ21, a 90-seater, can easily connect Dar es Salaam with Johannesburg and Addis Ababa. Some 250 orders have been placed for the aircraft around the world.
The ARJ21 is expected to be delivered to its first internal customer in China by the end of this year, and will begin to be delivered to foreign customers by the end of 2015.
“The total number of AVIC aircraft operating in the African continent is more than 400,” says Xue Hang, director of the civil aircraft division of AVIC International AeroDevelopment Corp, a sales and service provider wholly owned by AVIC.
Xue says AVIC has customers in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Egypt, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Sudan and Senegal.
Xue says the event was successful not only for AVIC, but “the name of African airlines was displayed in this air show as well”. The show included 700 exhibitors from 41 countries.
Xue says that there are also several Chinese-built Y12 aircraft serving in the Tanzania Air Force and experts believe that it is very suitable for civil air transport there, especially for short and low-frequency routes and remote airports.
The Y12 series aircraft is a light and general purpose aircraft. The high wing two-engine aircraft can be used for passenger and cargo transportation, as well as for parachute jumping and touring, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency.
The Y12 is made by Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Co Ltd, an AVIC subsidiary.
In June, Tanzanian Deputy Minister of Transport Charles Tizeba told the county’s National Assembly that the government planned to acquire Y12E planes that can carry 18 passengers each for Air Tanzania Co Ltd with Chinese financial support. Air Tanzania also has shown interest in the ARJ21.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May, Premier Li Keqiang proposed the implementation of a China-Africa regional aviation cooperation program, including support for Chinese enterprises to establish joint venture airlines in African nations and use Chinese-made airplanes to improve regional connections.
Li reiterated those points as important goals on Dec 4 during the visit to China by South African President Jacob Zuma. Aviation giant AVIC is expected to play an important role in realizing Li’s vision.
More than 30 aircraft made by AVIC were presented at the Zhuhai air show, while 17 aircraft purchase agreements were signed and several aircraft delivery ceremonies were held.
Purchase agreements involved civil aircraft such as the Y12, the LE500 light training aircraft, 56-seater MA60, the ARJ21 and the C919, a family of 158-174 seat narrow-body airliners under development.
Harbin Aircraft also announced the signing of a contract with a US airline company to sell 20 Y12 series aircraft to the firm, Xinhua reported.
The total number of AVIC aircraft operating in the African continent is more than 400.” XUE HANG DIRECTOR OF THE CIVIL AIRCRAFT DIVISION OF AVIC INTERNATIONAL AERO-DEVELOPMENT CORP
The aircraft will be used for sightseeing tours and cargo transport from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. It would be the first time for China to export civil aircraft to the United States.
Xue says it is “believed to be a signal that Chinese aircraft manufacturing capability has been regarded as a leading one by the global market”.
HAIG has sold 130 of its Y12 series aircraft to more than 20 countries and regions worldwide.
AVIC International Holding Corp, the largest Chinese State-owned aerospace company, has a network of 80 branches throughout China, the Asia Pacific, Europe, America and Africa.
AVIC was started in 1951 as the Aviation Industry Administration Commission and has assets of about $110 billion. It is not only an aircraft and helicopter manufacturer, but also a major supplier to other leading global aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus.
An AVIC aircraft model on display at a recent exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.