Aviation:Why is Congo Airways the Central African Carrier Abandoning The Embraer E2 for the Airbus A220


Central African Carrier, Congo Airways is reportedly considering swapping its order for the Embraer E-Jet E2 series in favor of the Airbus A220 family.

According to simpleflying.com, Congo Airways is reportedly considering swapping its order for the Embraer E-Jet E2 series in favor of the Airbus A220 family. Reports have suggested that the Kinshasa-headquartered carrier, which previously leased first-generation Embraer E-Jets from Kenya Airways, should have received the aircraft last December.

The order in question
In order to understand the nature of Congo Airways’ predicament, we must first establish the nature of the order at the heart of the debate. Airspace Africa notes that the flag carrier of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has four of the next-generation regional jet on order. But which variants of the type make up this figure?

Data from ch-aviation.com shows that it consists of two mid-size E190-E2s, as well as two examples of the stretched-fuselage E195-E2. The E190-E2s are confirmed as having a 96-seat capacity, consisting mainly of an 84-seat economy class cabin (2-2 layout). They also have 12 business class seats, laid out in a 2-1 setup.

READ: Aviation: After Nigeria, UAE targets another African country, Republic of Congo suspending entry for travellers

If Congo Airways is to take action regarding the order, it may have to do so soon. After all, ch-aviation suggests that the E190-E2s are set for delivery this month and in May. Meanwhile, the larger E195-E2s, which the carrier added to its initial order just over a year ago, are slated for delivery in November and December this year.

Called into question
The news that Congo Airways is reconsidering its stance regarding the E2 series, as reported by Airspace Africa, might come as something of a surprise. After all, it has already demonstrated a strong commitment to the type by naming an E190-E2 after Etienne Tshisekedi, a former President. As reported at the time of increasing the order, Congo Airways CEO Desire Bantu has additionally stated that:

“These new jets will allow us to extend our passenger and cargo operations regionally to high demand destinations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Abidjan. As we prepare for future success, we will have the flexibility, and the right-sized, most efficient aircraft, to serve our customers as the market returns.”

Furthermore, Newsaero reports that the Congolese government has already paid the first $14 million owed to Embraer for the aircraft. Despite this, its national airline may now be preparing to shelve the deal in favor of the Airbus A220. Additionally, ch-aviation also reported last month that Congo Airways had chosen not to extend the leases on its E190s borrowed from Kenya Airways.

A quest for a more uniform fleet?
All in all, these various factors seem to suggest that Embraer aircraft have, for whatever reason, fallen out of favor at Congo Airways. Swapping its E2 order in favor of the Airbus A220 would give the carrier a more uniform fleet, given that two of its four current planes are also Airbus jets (albeit from the rather different A320 series).

Whether Congo Airways would replace the Brazilian regional jets with the A220-100 or A220-300 variant is presently unclear. It may be the case that the former would replace the E190-E2, and the latter could be substituted in for the E195-E2. In each instance, the Airbus A220 variants have a slightly higher capacity than their corresponding E2 rival (100-120 vs 96 and 120-150 vs 120).



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