American confirms regional jet order split with Embraer, Bombardier

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Bombardier and Embraer will split an order by the newly-merged parent company of American Airlines and US Airways for 90 76-seat regional jets.

Coming only three days after American and US Airways completed their historic merger, the orders signed today add another piece to the ongoing re-fleeting of the US regional jet market, but also leave questions unanswered about the future of American Airlines Group subsidiary American Eagle.

“Now that we’ve closed our merger with US Airways, we can deliver a top-tier regional product that offers a first class cabin, main cabin extra, an in-flight wi-fi,” says Kenji Hashimoto, senior vice-president for regional carriers with American Airlines.

Embraer won the largest share of the deal with firm orders for 60 E-175s, plus options for 90 more. The first aircraft will be delivered in the first quarter of 2015, but American has decided to not automatically assign the jets to American Eagle. The identity of regional carrier that will fly the E-175s will be decided later, American says.

The E-175s will be configured with 12 first class, 20 main cabin extra and 44 main cabin seats.

Bombardier, meanwhile, will deliver 30 CRJ900 NextGen jets beginning in the second quarter of 2014 to American, but they will be operated by US Airways subsidiary PSA Airlines. The order also includes options for 40 more.

The CRJ900s will be configured with 12 first class, 32 main cabin extra and 32 main cabin seats, according to the airline.

Both the CRJ900s and E175s are powered by GE Aviation CF34-8 turbofan engines.

For Embraer, the order helps sustain the E-Jet production line until the arrival of the E2 E-Jet family beginning in 2018. A recent decision by JetBlue to delay deliveries of several dozen E-190s to beyond 2020 opened a gap in Embraer’s production line after 2015.

Bombardier, meanwhile, adds more CRJ900s to the backlog while it continues to work to bring the CSeries family into operational service.

Over the past year, US airlines have been ordering 76-seat regional jets in bulk as less-economical 50-seat jets acquired from the early 1990s are phased out.

“These new regional jets are also a big win for our employees at our regional subsidiary, and will greatly improve economic efficiencies by lowering operating costs,” Hashimoto says.

Embraer has dominated the balance of orders for US regional carriers over the past 15 months. Including American’s order today, Embraer has received firm orders from four airlines totalling 167 E-175s. Bombardier has signed firm orders with two airlines now for a total of 70 CRJ900s.