New carrier Congo Express to use SA Express CRJ

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South African regional operator SA Express is establishing a new local Congolese carrier, branded Congo Express, which will begin services next month.

The new carrier is to use a Bombardier CRJ200 which will be taken from the SA Express fleet.

SA Express holds 49% of the joint operation, which is being set up with a partner identified as BizAfrika Congo.

It will serve routes between the cities of Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1 February.

Congo Express managing director Didier Kindambu says this will mark the first of a three-phase development.

"Next, we plan on growing the domestic routes to serve other airports within the DRC, followed by an extension of services beyond the borders of the DRC," he says.

SA Express, which has been involved in discussions for several years on the project, states that the operation will act as an "extension" of its current brand.

Aircraft flying for Congo Express - the types have yet to be confirmed - will have livery which reflects that of the newly-rebranded SA Express.

Congo Express will operate seven times per week between Lubumbashi and Kinshasa, and four times between Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi. A spokeswoman says that SA Express will be responsible for maintaining the CRJ200.

SA Express says it will continue to operate its six-times weekly services between Johannesburg and Lubumbashi.