Bombardier expects to double the size of the installed fleet in Africa over the next 3-5 years, according to Chet Fuller, senior vice president sales and marketing.

The fleet will then double again within an even shorter period of time, Fuller predicted on the eve of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general assembly in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Africa is shaping up to be a tremendous market,” Fuller says. Bombardier currently has 200 aircraft operating with 61 airlines in the region. It has been a “great second home for used CRJ-200s,” and Africa is “exactly the kind of market the Q400 was built for” – relatively long distances requiring speed and range and demanding runways.

Bombardier expects growth to be modest in the CRJ market, but very strong for the Q400 and there is a “very strong pipeline” of potential orders for both the Q400 and the CSeries, Fuller says.

One of the issues Bombardier is still facing is customers securing sufficient levels of financing. “It is easier where there are government guarantees,” says Raphael Haddad, vice president Middle East and Africa sales. But “alternative sources are going to be important, too,” he argues, among them Islamic banks and Chinese financing in the region.

Bombardier believes the region will develop along the more traditional lines of air transport: first major international routes that will be complemented by a growing number of domestic connections “and then the next tier of cities will develop.” Haddad says many airlines are using narrowbodies today for departures with no more than 80 passengers, but smaller jets would be much better suited.