Embraer has strongly denied any irregularities in the sale of 20 Embraer 190 jets to Austral in 2009, following a number of high-profile reports in the Argentinean press suggesting that the Aerolineas Argentinas subsidiary could have paid inflated prices for the aircraft.
Several national dailies published reports quoting an Embraer Securities and Exchange Commission filing from March, which stated that the airframer is "investigating transactions carried out in [five] countries". These media reports, citing the filing, speculated that the Austral order is being investigated.
The alleged commissions of around $100 million for all 20 aircraft, or $5 million for each aircraft, has been under investigation by the 12th Criminal Court of Buenos Aires since 2009, leading to a court-ordered police raid of Aerolineas Argentinas' offices that year. However, the investigation has not produced a decision since then.
Embraer responded to the Argentinean press, with the following statement: "Regarding the information published in the Argentine press, involving the name of Embraer, the company categorically denies the accusations of any irregularity in the process of the sale of airplanes to Austral Líneas Aéreas." However, Embraer declines to confirm to Flightglobal that Argentina is not among the countries investigated.
An Aerolineas Argentinas spokesman says the "aircraft had a higher price because they included important non-standard specifications, as well as a number of services packages" which resulted in the purchase price of $34.9 million per aircraft.
Austral operates the aircraft mostly on domestic and some regional routes. It recently ordered two additional aircraft of the same type.