In a first for the carrier, Federal Airlines has received its R350m order for six brand-new, state-of-the-art Cessna Grand Caravan C208B EX aircraft.
“This event is a significant occasion for us. Buying one new aircraft is something that a lot of people never get to do – we have had the opportunity to buy six brand-new Caravans,” said the proud CEO of Federal Airlines, Mark Hurst, speaking at an event to introduce the new aircraft.
The COVID pandemic, which substantially disrupted business, resulted in many aircraft being sold out of South Africa, said Hurst. As the pandemic subsided, Federal Airlines business began to virtually double month-on-month. Finding a shortage of pre-used aircraft in South Africa, the airline resorted to buying brand-new ones.
“This was not necessarily our choice, but today it is a magnificent thing…COVID gave us the opportunity. We were forced to secure assets as we did not have any, and without the assets we could not provide the service.”
The new aircraft come in two configurations. The VIP charter configuration features club seating for eight passengers, while the standard shuttle configuration can accommodate up to 12 passengers. On an average monthly basis, the new aircraft have added over 1 300 seats per month.
Key features of the aircraft include:
- Advanced Operating Features: Cutting-edge flight avionics and control systems, with enhanced graphics, split-screen capability, faster hardware, and various other additional new features.
- Ultra-Efficient Pratt & Whitney PT6A-140 engines: A more powerful and fuel-efficient engine, improved cruising speeds, payload and range.
- Enhanced Passenger Comfort: Redefined interiors and comfortable seating, making the transfer as enjoyable as the ultimate destination.
Hurst said: “There are many great aircraft that can do this work, but for us the Caravan is versatile…If you look at tourism in Africa, Kenya drives this aircraft, Tanzania drives this aircraft, Botswana drives this aircraft, South Africa drives this aircraft. Between those four countries, if I had to guess, there are 70 Caravans operating in the region.
The aircraft can use any runway, it carries between eight and 12 passengers, making it versatile, and it is robust as it holds its value as an asset.
Federal Airlines Group Chairman, Rashid Wally, said: “The Caravan C208B EX embodies our commitment to sustainability, passenger comfort, and overall safety.
“The new aircraft will enable us to continue to offer our customers the highest levels of service and reliability, and we are grateful and encouraged by the continued support of our loyal industry partners and clients.”
Destinations served by Federal Airlines include the Kruger National Park, Madikwe Game Reserve, Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, Thornybush Game Reserve, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Marakele National Park, and Waterberg Game Park.
The new aircraft will operate on all these routes, based on demand.