Aeromexico looks at acquiring more E-190s

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Aeromexico is looking at acquiring additional Embraer E-190s and reducing the size of its Embraer ERJ-145 fleet.

The group's Aeromexico Connect subsidiary currently operates seven E-190s and is committed to acquiring an additional nine aircraft. Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa says the carrier's original E-190 delivery schedule has been revised and the next two aircraft, which were originally scheduled to be delivered late last year or early this year, will now be delivered in the fourth quarter. He says Aeromexico will receive the remaining seven E-190s "gradually" until mid 2012 and the carrier is now "evaluating if we can move beyond that".

He adds Aeromexico may eventually require more than the 16 E-190s originally envisioned - which include 12 E-190s ordered directly from Embraer and four that were ordered by GECAS - because of higher than anticipated demand on some its ERJ-145 routes.

"There are some routes in Mexico [where] the -145 is not enough. Some routes have behaved very well and there is probably space for a larger aircraft. The idea would be to replace some of the -145s with 190s, to grow and strengthen our positioning in the market in Mexico," Conesa said on the sidelines of a SkyTeam event in New York earlier this week.

He adds Aeromexico is looking at a possible "exchange" of ERJ-145s for E-190s but whether it ends up reducing the size of its ERJ-145 fleet will depend on how the Mexican market performs. Aeromexico Connect only added its last seven ERJ-145s last year, giving it 37 of the type. Conesa says if Aeromexico opts to reduce the size of its ERJ fleet its earliest ERJ-145s, which were added in 2003 and early 2004, would be returned.

"The first leases are due in 2012 more or less so we have flexibility to either extend those leases or replace those with a larger aircraft," Conesa says. "The window of opportunity is 2012."

Conesa says Aeromexico now primarily uses its ERJ-145s for domestic or short-haul international routes of one-and-a-half hours or less while the E-190s are used on sectors of up to three hours. Aeromexico has used its Embraer fleet to take over and increase frequencies on domestic routes that were previously operated by mainline aircraft, and to launch services in some thinner domestic markets. With the exception of a few major trunk routes Aeromexico is no longer using mainline aircraft in its domestic network.