An Embraer E145 operated by MwantJet was climbing out of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo when a bird collided with the windshield, causing it to crack. The aircraft safely returned to Kinshasa’s N’Djili airport just minutes later. The plane had only joined the Mwant fleet earlier this month.
One of Africa’s newest airlines has already been involved in an unfortunate incident. MwantJet received certification to fly in May of this year and received its first aircraft this month. The airline’s only jet is new to Mwant but is actually almost 19 years old. The aircraft, registration 9S-AYE, came from Skyworld Aviation in the UK and arrived in the Congo in August.
However, the plane has only been in the sky a handful of times for MwantJet before the incident at the end of last week. Planespotters.net indicates that the jet is currently parked, probably for repairs to take place. The jet is the airline’s only commercial aircraft, although it does have one Hawker 850 XP for private flights.
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MwantJet is based at Kinshasa N’Djili airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The airline launched in a year plagued by the pandemic and so, like many other airlines around the world, has a current focus on cargo operations and domestic flights. According to its website, it also offers chartered passenger services and a few scheduled operations.
The airline has been operating private flights since 2018. The new 50-seat Embraer jet will help Mwant expand its network. The airline hopes to offer commercial flights to over ten local destinations within two years.
Competition in the Congo
Just as MwantJet took delivery of its first commercial aircraft, its competitor Congo Airways also looks to add new Embraer aircraft to its fleet. The airline updated an existing deal with Embraer to swap two E175s for the larger E190s. According to FlightGlobal.com, the airline hopes the larger capacity will allow it to step into the spaces previously served by the struggling South African Airways.
Earlier this month, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) held its annual general assembly in which industry leaders agreed that domestic markets look set to recover fastest from the global downturn. This will be followed by increased demand for intra-African routes, and finally, international travel will take much longer to reach pre-virus levels.
With MwatJet prepared to take advantage of the domestic market and Congo Airways poised to strategically take over routes across the continent, the Congo is well-placed to maximize potential growth in the market. However, as the AFRAA noted, collaboration and coordination are key. Additionally, MwatJet is not yet a member of AFRAA and will need to get its jet back in the sky before it can think about collaborating with other airlines. The airline has not yet responded to a request for comment.
What do you think of the newest African airline? Do you think the AFRAA is right? Are we about to see increased collaboration across the continent and growth in African aviation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.