In front of more than 1,000 guests, including Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and many of the country’s top government officials and executives, Embraer rolled out the first Embraer 190 on February 9 at its São José dos Campos plant. The airliner, which seats up to 108 passengers, is the largest aircraft ever produced by the Brazilian manufacturer.
While those with an interest awaited word from Leesburg, Va.-based AvCraft about when it would get its German assembly line rolling, another curious development involving local officials and businessmen in South Carolina raised questions about the status of the company’s Myrtle Beach maintenance base.
It had been a somewhat quiet year since the RAA staged its annual convention in St. Louis last May. Seemingly immune to the ills that have crippled their mainline counterparts for the past four years, the regional airlines finished last year with close to 30-percent traffic gains and average yields of 10 percent, leaving many wondering how long the major airlines would allow such an imbalance to continue.
Republic Airways became the second regional airline to claim a stake in US Airways last month when it inked a conditional deal to commit $125 million in equity and up to $110 million in asset-related financing.
Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer has secured a so-called provisional certification from the FAA for the Embraer 170, allowing launch customer US Airways to begin proving runs with the airplane before it wins full FAA certification, now scheduled for next month. The announcement came just weeks after Brazil’s CTA granted similar certification for the 70-seat jet.
US Airways may resume taking deliveries of Embraer and Bombardier regional jets if the airline’s employee unions accept more cost-cutting measures, thanks to a tentative agreement by GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) to lease another thirty-one 70- and 90-seat jets over the next three years. Last fall US Airways had to stop deliveries of Embraer 170s at 22 after it fell into bankruptcy for the second time.
A new code-share contract signed last month by St. George, Utah-based SkyWest to fly from Milwaukee and Kansas City as Midwest Connect stands as the centerpiece of Midwest Airlines’ strategy to fend off a hostile buyout overture from AirTran Airways. The deal, scheduled to take effect in April, calls for SkyWest to fly 25 Bombardier CRJ200s, the first 15 arriving by this November.
US Airways expects to launch Embraer E190 service from Philadelphia this month, marking the first application of the Brazilian narrowbody in mainline service in the U.S. Plans call for the dual-class, 99-seat jets to link Philadelphia with Hartford, Conn.; Boston; Dallas; Providence, R.I.; and Manchester, N.H.
Republic Airlines will fly 17 seventy-six-seat Embraer E170s as Frontier Jet Express under a new code-share contract meant to replace and expand service now performed by Seattle-based Horizon Air with Bombardier CRJ700s. The 11-year contract calls for the first aircraft to enter service next month and the last in December 2008. Horizon’s contract with Frontier expires in December.
Brazil’s Embraer has once again lowered its projection for the small regional jet segment, predicting a 10-year demand for just 500 units in the 30- to 60-seat segment in its latest market outlook for the airline and business jet markets. Just two-and-a-half years ago Embraer projected a 10-year market for 1,745 airplanes in the 30- to 60-seat jet category.