South Africa-based turboprop leasing outfit CemAir is set to deploy its first Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 100 LR next month.

After reaching its provisional target of acquiring 10 twin-engined Hawker Beechcraft 1900 commuter aircraft, the group has chosen to turn its attention to the jet market "to keep up with aviation technology", marketing representative Steven Bilger said. "We'd like to follow-up with a fleet of CRJs or similar aircraft, with an overall target of five to 10 regional jets," he said.

The group is already looking for new deal opportunities and has sufficient cash on its balance sheet to acquire assets outright. "What we make, we put back into the company," Bilger said. The company is understood to generate an annual turnover in the region of $10 million.

Built in 1999, CemAir's first CRJ, which is undergoing post-purchase maintenance, is the result of a special deal with a US aircraft lessor. It is understood the jet will remain the property of the unnamed US owner, which allowed CemAir to free up sufficient cash to purchase its last three Beech 1900s; the first two of which were delivered in December and January, with the third arriving imminently.

The lessor has already received several charter enquiries for the CRJ, said Bilger, who noted that CemAir will be the only privately-owned CRJ operator in South Africa. "We have a lot of charter work lined up, but our preference is short, medium or long-term lease deals, with our target market being commercial airlines, oil and gas companies, the mining and recourse sector, humanitarian organisations and the like," he said.

CemAir was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Lanseria International Airport, near Johannesburg. It deploys its aircraft on humanitarian missions, providing relief aid to cities such as Kabul, Afghanistan and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The company has operating and leasing experience throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Source: Flight International