Brazil's Embraer sees more orders from Asia-Pac carriers

SINGAPORE - Brazilian plane maker Embraer is expecting some more orders from airlines in the Asia-Pacific region this year, after a record year of commercial aircraft sales last year.

"We hope to have further announcements for the Farnborough Airshow (in July)," said Mark Dunnachie, vice-president of Embraer commercial aviation in Asia Pacific.

Last Thursday, Embraer signed a deal with Indian carrier Air Costa for up to 100 planes at the Singapore Airshow.

Mr Dunnachie said the Embraer E-Jets, which seat between 70 and 122 passengers, would appeal to carriers looking to "right size" their fleet.

This includes turboprop operators upgrading, and low-cost carriers that want to diversify to smaller planes.

"The market will evolve, and passengers if given a choice between a turboprop and a jet will choose a jet," he said.

He added that jets are more economical for flights further than 250 nautical miles. "We will see about 25 per cent of the existing turboprop routes in the Apac region are ripe for E-Jets solutions."

Over 1,000 of the single-aisle current generation E-Jets have been delivered.

The second-generation E-Jets E2s, launched in Paris last year, are expected to enter service from 2018, with 200 firm orders and another 200 on option, including the Air Costa deal.

Mr Dunnachie said the E2s will help LCCs by giving 20 per cent lower trip cost than the new Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX. Seat-mile cost will be almost similar, allowing a higher flight frequency with the right size.

He added that E-Jets will help complement larger narrow-body planes such as the Boeing 737s.

"I think the first major low-cost airline in this region that gets into the E-Jets and E2 will be a winner in the game," he said.

Around 65 operators worldwide currently fly E-Jets. "The target is to have 100 airlines by the time of the E2," Mr Dunnachie said.

He added that after sales support is also one of Embraer's greatest strengths, helping it differentiate itself. "We always remind the market that our support network is at least 20 years of blood, sweat and tears."

Embraer has been in Singapore for 13 years, with a warehouse in Changi, and is actively looking at new facilities here.

The company is scouting locations for a new simulator to add to those in Australia and Japan. "Logically that should be here, in the centre," Mr Dunnachie said, but added that there are no firm plans yet.

"We've had a very prolonged association with Singapore, and I can only see that expanding in the future."

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