As its installed base of aircraft in Africa grows, Embraer is looking at building its footprint on the continent to support the operations of the aircraft.

The move comes not just as the fleet of E-Jets grows, but also as ERJ-145 family aircraft are finding a second life in the continent, says Mathieu Duquesnoy, Embraer VP for airline markets in the Middle East and Africa. “We are analyzing what should be the best penetration of customer support,” he notes, both in terms of training and spared support.

The company has already committed to placing a spares facility in the Middle East that would also cover Africa, but more may be needed. No decisions have been made, but could come soon and could also cover maintenance service centers.

One potential target is Kenya, where Embraer’s ties are expanding with Kenya Airways now operating eight E-Jets (three 190s and five 170s on lease); two more are coming for Air Lease Corp. and 10 firm orders are expected to be finalized. Duquesnoy notes that discussions with the airline about a broader partnership are being looked at.

Other African E-Jet operators are LAM in Mozambique and Air Nigeria. Egyptair also is an E-Jet operator and South African has ordered two 170 regional jets, although delivery dates are not yet confirmed.

Duquesnoy adds that the introduction of smaller regional jets into Africa could also pave the way for the purchase of larger 70- to 120-seaters. Air Namibia is operating three ERJ-135s from Regional, and Aircraft Limited Services operates the type on domestic Kenyan routes.