Republic Airways Signals Interest in Airbus A320neos

 - May 9, 2011, 7:41 AM
Republic Airways’ Frontier subsidiary plans to remove its last four Airbus A318s from its fleet by this September as it awaits delivery of Bombardier C Series jets and now, potentially, Airbus Neos. (Photo: Airbus)

Indianapolis-based Republic Airways signaled an interest in acquiring Airbus A320neos last week, when the airline’s vice president and corporate controller, Joe Allman, said the airline spent $8 million during this year’s first quarter on a so-called placeholder deposit for the re-engined A320-family jets. The revelation came during the company’s quarterly conference call with securities analysts, as Allman issued an overview of the company’s cash position and detailed its capital expenditures during the quarter.

Already a customer for the Bombardier C Series, Republic holds a firm order for forty 138-seat Bombardier CS300s, delivery of which it expects to start in 2015. Airbus expects to start A320Neo deliveries by October that year. Unless Republic plans to scrap its C Series order, the airline’s interest in adding Neos ironically could help support Bombardier’s oft-challenged assertions that its new narrowbody does not compete directly with the re-engined Airbuses.

Republic did not return calls for comment about the placeholder deposit, leaving open questions about what variant or variants of the Neo the airline might want, and what airplanes in the Frontier fleet they might supplant, if any. Plans had called for it to remove A319s as C Series jets arrived. It also plans to shed its last four A318s by September.

Meanwhile, Republic will have to wait an average of another two months for six Embraer 190s–originally scheduled for delivery during the third and fourth quarters this year–due to part delays resulting from the earthquake in Japan. Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said he planned to consult with Embraer last week on the delay, which he said involved a supplier of engine parts. GE, maker of the CF34-10E turbofans in the E190, identified the supplier as IHI, based in the Japanese east coast city of Soma. IHI serves as a revenue sharing participant in the CF34 engine program and produces low-pressure turbine rotating components and module assemblies along with compressor airfoils, as well as the mid-fan shaft for the CF34-10E.