Exeter, UK-based Flybe has agreed to buy most of British Airways’ BA Connect subsidiary. In return, BA will take a 15-percent stake in Flybe, which plans to retire all the BA Connect airplanes now in the British Airways stable and replace them with Bombardier Q400s and Embraer E195s. British Airways CEO Willie Walsh told reporters he expected to conclude the deal by year-end.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has presented Embraer with a type certificate for its E-195 airliner, the largest airplane in its stable and the last member of the company’s flagship E-Jet family. The approval comes a little more than two weeks after Brazil’s new certification authority granted its approval and clears the way for deliveries to the 195’s first European operator, FlyBE.
This is Mauricio Botelho’s last Farnborough International show as chief executive of Embraer. Next April he will hand over the reins to an as yet unnamed successor, before assuming the position of chairman for a two-year term and then retiring from the Brazilian airframer, having presided over a remarkable transformation of the group’s fortunes.
Brazil’s Embraer passes another critical milestone in its meteoric development this month with EASA certification of the largest of its four-member family of E-Jets, the 108- to 118-seat Embraer 195. Although it marks the formal market introduction of the last airliner project on Embraer’s research and development ledger, the approval by no means signals the end of the company’s work in the commercial realm, or even on this series.
Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop continues to steal the spotlight from the company’s regional jet offerings, most recently drawing a firm order for another four examples from Flybe during last month’s Paris Air Show. The option conversion, coupled with an order for 20 Q400s announced in January, will increase Flybe’s Q400 fleet to 45 aircraft.
Embraer entered the Paris Air Show on a roll last month and exited with a flourish, signing orders for fourteen 118-seat 195s with Flybe and twenty 190s with GECAS. The Brazilian company also found a new route to India with a preliminary commitment for two Embraer 170s and three 175s from start-up airline Paramount Airways.
Flybe, the UK-based low-cost carrier that took delivery of its first Embraer E195 last month, plans to go public next year with the goal of raising between $141 million and $189 million. A spokesman at Dresdner Kleinwort, part of investment institution Dresdner Bank AG of London and Frankfurt, said the financial advisor will place the value of Flybe at between $283 million and $379 million.
Embraer celebrated delivery of its first E195 jetliner last month in an event at the company’s São José dos Campos headquarters that completed the Brazilian company’s line of E-Jets already in service–the E170, E175 and E190.
Rising load factors for the 30- to 120-seat segment are evidence that carriers are becoming more efficient. But with revenues improving only “mildly” and labor costs continuing to inhibit growth, operators continue to look for ways to trim the cost of doing business and to combat the rising price of fuel. That’s the view of Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer as it takes a long-range look at its segment of the airline industry.
Although it will mark the formal market introduction of the last and largest E-Jet, the scheduled July certification of the 108-seat Embraer 195 by no means signals the end of the company’s work on the series. In a way, it represents a beginning, as Embraer can now turn its full attention to building production efficiency and, more important to its customers, adding facility and reliability to the airplanes themselves.