Spanish regional airline Binter Canarias is establishing a subsidiary in Cape Verde, an archipelago of islands off the northwest coast of Africa.

“We think we will get our license in 15 days and one week later we will start to fly,” Binter president Pedro Augustin de Castillo said, speaking at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) General Assembly in Madrid.

He added that Cape Verde was selected because the archipelago is similar to Binter Canarias’ core operation, between the Spanish Canary Islands.

The new subsidiary, Binter CV, will initially operate two ATR 72-500s, although the fleet is expected to grow to four or five aircraft. These are being phased out of Binter Canarias’ main operation in favor of newer ATR 72-600s.

ATR CEO Patrick de Castelbajac said Binter’s aircraft operate in challenging conditions, as the ATRs are exposed to salt water while operating between islands and the short sectors do not give the aircraft an opportunity to dry. “In terms of maintenance, there are some preventative steps which can be taken. We send [other airlines] to Binter to see how it can be done,” he said.

The startup will compete against incumbent carrier TACV Cape Verde Airlines, but Binter CV plans to offer more frequencies than its local rival and is expecting to carry around 400,000 passengers a year.

Binter’s fleet comprises 14 ATR 72-500s, four ATR 72-600s (plus another 14 on order) and two Bombardier CRJ900s. By 2021, Binter Canarias plans to operate 18 ATR 72-600s from the Canaries, plus five ATR 72-500s in Cape Verde.

Over the next two years, Binter is also looking to replace a pair of CRJ900s on wet lease from Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum. As part of this changeover, Binter Canarias aims to double its jet fleet from two to four aircraft, which the airline will “most probably” operate itself.

“Our growth will be in Africa and also in Cape Verde,” de Castillo said, adding that he plans to add onward legs to existing services and introduce a new business class on West African services.

Victoria Moores