Embraer rolled up to the show with a raft of E-Jet orders, including five firm positions plus five options for 190s from Niki Lauda’s low-fare airline Niki, but the Brazilian manufacturer played down threats from Bombardier’s C-Series, which its Canadian rival launched before the show.
Mauro Kern, Embraer executive vice president airline market, told reporters at the show, “We see that the C-Series will be in the market by 2013-14 [but] with E-Jets, in these hard times, we can give the airlines a solution right now.”
As if to prove his point, Kern also announced an order for 12 E-190s from AeroMexico (plus 15 options)–aircraft that until now had been marked as unannounced in the Brazilian manufacturer’s orderbook–and the firming up of five options held by Nas Air of Saudi Arabia, taking its order to 10 firm and 12 “purchase rights,” said Kern.
“We will not make any immediate reaction to the C-Series,” added Kern. “We are following very closely the fuel price, environmental requirements and advances in technology so we will be able to make a decision on the next generation of airplane but it will be structural, not irrational.
“We have been studying turboprops and jets but don’t know what our next airplane will be or how the market will evolve,” admitted Kern, who was accompanied by Luiz Fuchs, senior vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
More than 400 E-Jets are now flying. “Very soon we will have 15 airlines in 34 countries flying the airplanes,” said Kern, who added that 53 percent of E-Jets are being used for so-called “right sizing” to better match capacity to reduced demand. Compared to an old aircraft such as a DC-9, Kern claimed that an E-190/195 can lead to savings of $3 million per year per aircraft in fuel and $1 million in maintenance costs.
The E-Jet orderbook now stands at 847 firm orders and 827 options, with 410 delivered and 437 in the firm backlog, said Kern.
“We took a decision that we would need an airplane below the Airbus size. We negotiated very quickly [with Lauda] because it was very easy to negotiate five orders and five options,” Kern said.
Embraer managed to accommodate Lauda’s need for early slots–in May and June 2009– and the carrier will take one a year from then on. “It was not enough because I wanted February and March,” said the former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, who is keen to take advantage of the E-190’s claimed 20 percent fuel efficiency advantage over the airline’s Airbus A319s.
“For 2009 there is some flexibility allowing us to rearrange if we have a new customer, as the options allow this,” said Kern