Argentina to firm up E-190 order this week

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Argentina will finally formalise later this week, during the state visit of president Fernandez de Kirchner to Brazil, an order for 20 Embraer 190 aircraft originally announced in May by state-owned carrier Aerolineas Argentinas.

The aircraft will be operated by Aerolineas' domestic subsidiary Austral.

Argentina's Secretary of Transport Juan Pablo Schiavi confirmed yesterday that the government has "ratified" the terms of the contract, which he values at "around US$700 million".

Brazil's development bank BNDES has agreed to finance 85% of the order, with Argentinean state banks, backed by government guarantees, supplying the remaining 15%.

Deliveries are scheduled to begin next year, and the aircraft will replace Austral's older Boeing MD jets.

In May the Argentinean government and Embraer also signed an industrial cooperation programme, under which Embraer will transfer technological know-how to the aeronautical industrial centre in the Argentinean city of Cordoba for the future supply of service and parts for Embraer aircraft.

Aerolineas Argentinas has already started its fleet renewal process with 12 Boeing 737-700s it acquired earlier this year. The carrier's new chief commercial offider Juan Pablo Lafosse recently said the Aerolineas was also considering leasing -800s for the replacment of 737-500s. Once the Embraer deal is finalised, Aerolineas still has to formalise its long haul fleet renewal.

Last month during the ALTA leadership forum Lafosse said Aerolineas would likely lease 13 Airbus widebodies if a purchase deal for 13 A330/A340s originally forged by the carrier's former owner Marsans falls through. He explained Aerolineas aimed to start adding the aircraft in February of next year.