Air Burkina is set to bolster its fleet with the acquisition of Airbus A220s and Embraer ERJs. The airline will bring in the new planes as part of a $450m cash injection led by U.S investment firm African Global Development (AGD).
Air Burkina transforms its fleet
After the government of Burkina Faso committed to selling its stake in Air Burkina to AGD last October, the investment firm committed an eye-watering sum of $450m to develop the airline. Now Air Burkina has finally revealed which planes it will spend the money on:
The airline claims its new planes will be delivered by July 2022 at the latest. The deal was finalized on January 21st after Vincent Timbindi Dabilgou, head of Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Transport, met with a delegation of Airbus officials. Mr. Dabilgou is looking for swift progress on the deal, saying,
“… the acquisition of the A220-300 can be done no later than July 2022 to allow Air Burkina to meet the growing need for developing new routes.”
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A new academy and maintenance center
Acquiring new aircraft is just one part of Air Burkina’s ambitious plans. AGD will also help the airline construct its own maintenance hangar to keep its aircraft in top condition. On top of this, a new pilot academy will be built to help Air Burkina train its pilots and develop new talent.
While AGD will acquire majority-ownership of Air Burkina, the government of Burkina Faso and other local companies will retain a 20% stake in the airline. The venture represents something of a gamble for the investment firm, as Air Burkina has been losing money year upon year. The COVID pandemic has also exacerbated the situation, adding to the airline’s mounting debts.
What this means for Air Burkina
The new fleet acquisitions open up a world of possibilities for Air Burkina, particularly the Airbus A220s. With a range exceeding 6,000km, the A220-300 is capable of connecting over 80% of capital cities across the African continent. According to Le Journal de L’Aviation, Air Burkina first plans to expand its African network before opening new routes to Europe.
Currently, Air Burkina operates with a fleet of five Embraer jets with an average age approaching 15 years. Once its A220-300s are put into service, Air Burkina will be part of a small club of African A220 operators. EgyptAir presently operates 12 A220s, while Air Tanzania has two in its fleet. Air Senegal is also set to join the club, with the first of 12 A220s expected this year.
Do you think this move will prove to be a success for Air Burkina? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.