Embraer and Norwegian regional airline Wideroe on Wednesday celebrated delivery of the first production E2 series E-Jet, a 114-seat E190-E2 scheduled to enter service on a route between Bergen and Tromso, Norway, on April 24. The first E2, a high-density example configured with a 29-inch seat pitch, two days earlier had finished a roughly two-hour acceptance flight with Wideroe crew from Embraer’s main production site in São Jose dos Campos, Brazil.
Wideroe, which holds a firm order for three E190-E2s and options on another 12 E2s of any variety, chose the Embraer jets over the Bombardier C Series despite its long relationship with the Canadian manufacturer vis a vis a fleet consisting solely of Q Series and Dash 8 turboprops. Wideroe CEO Stein Nilsen explained that the airline’s potential requirement for smaller jets such as the E175-E2 played a large part in influencing its decision-making. “I think the most important thing was the rightsizing strategy of Wideroe,” said Nilsen. “When we looked around to try to find a solution for an aircraft carrying around 100 seats, there were a lot of good opportunities. But we were fascinated by the possibility to further develop this rightsizing strategy...This was the key issue.”
The airline plans to use the airplanes to connect its bases in the southwest of the country to far-flung destinations in the north, as well as to launch services from Bergen to, potentially, several European destinations.
Speaking with members of the press just before the ceremony, Embraer CEO Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva called the delivery the start of a new era for the company, coincidentally as talks with Boeing about a possible buyout or joint venture involving Embraer’s commercial airplanes division intensify. Silva expressed optimism about the possibility, notwithstanding the potential for disruption that inevitably could result. He also acknowledged that the motivation for Embraer lay in part with a desire to mitigate the “challenge” associated with selling the E190 and E195 in a capacity segment approaching that dominated by Boeing and Airbus. Nevertheless, he insists Embraer stands ready to compete with Boeing if the sides don’t eventually reach a deal.
“We are not at all afraid to compete with the narrowbodies,” said Silva. “We do believe that we have a very efficient, if not the most efficient family of aircraft in the segment from 70, 80 to 150 seats. However, we have to be mindful of the dynamics of the market.”
Silva added that Embraer does not feel any desperation to move ahead with a tie-up, given the strong financial position in which the company finds itself following six to eight years of investing 10 percent of its revenues in new products and business structures.
“We’re talking about an investment of about four or five billion dollars,” explained Silva. “So we are ready to monetize these investments now. So we don’t need it. However, when we look more towards the future, given the dynamics that exist now, and given that every company would like to grow...it’s a natural aspiration. In order for Embraer to grow faster, I think we would need to [consider a collaboration].”