Flybe deferral opens path to re-engined Embraers

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UK regional carrier Flybe's deferral of a batch of Embraer deliveries was partly influenced by the prospect of receiving the re-engined version of the E-Jet family.

The airline ordered 35 Embraer 175s in 2010 as part of an agreement which potentially extended to another 105 of the type up to 2020.

Flybe began introducing the 175s in November 2011 and, by the end of March 2012, it had four of the type in a UK fleet which comprised 68 aircraft - including its 14 Embraer 195s and 50 Bombardier Q400s.

But the carrier has since embarked on a restructuring programme including amendments to its jet and turboprop fleets.

Its decision to defer 16 of the 175s by three or four years, to 2017-19, puts their delivery in the same timeframe as the entry into service of the re-engined E-Jet in 2018.

"It was considered a benefit of the deferral," says Flybe corporate board director Mike Rutter. The airline had previously expressed an interest in the new aircraft.

Embraer's revamped E-Jets will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1700G and PW1900G geared turbofans. The aircraft will also feature a new wing and upgraded avionics.

Four 175s for Flybe are scheduled for delivery in autumn this year, the carrier states, but it then has no further committed deliveries until 2016.

The airline signed the deferral agreement with Embraer in May.

Flybe has no outstanding commitments to Q400s and has been reducing the turboprop fleet over the last two years by returning leased aircraft and selling excess airframes.

It stated in January that it aimed to sell its four remaining owned Q400s. Two have been sold at a "modest book profit", it says, while the process for two remaining owned Q400s is continuing.

Flybe says the Embraer deferral and the combined sales of 13 Q400s will help to "de-risk" the fleet over the next three years.