Bombardier and Embraer both see a second wave of regional aircraft refleeting coming in the USA, with existing options the best opportunity for firms orders.
“We expect a second wave in 2016 or before,” says Guy Hachey, president and chief operating officer of Bombardier Aerospace, at the IATA AGM in Doha.
The airframer anticipates a “couple hundred” orders for regional jets with capacity for 76 seats or more for the regional fleets of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, he says. “I’m not saying we’ll win them all,” cautions Hachey.
Paulo Cesar Silva, executive vice-president of Embraer’s commercial aviation division, outlined similar expectations at the recent Regional Airlines Association annual convention.
“We’re very bullish that these options may materialise in the coming two, three years,” he says on the US market. The orders would be for aircraft to replace existing 50-seat and 70-seat regional jets, he adds.
Embraer has won the majority of regional jet orders in the USA since 2012. The Brazilian airframer secured 177 firm orders for its Embraer 175 compared to just 70 for the Bombardier CRJ900.
American and Delta have 70 options for the CRJ900, according to Flightglobal’s analysis. American, Republic Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and United have 277 options for the E175.
SkyWest has an additional 60 reconfirmable orders for the E175 that are conditional on it signing a capacity purchase agreement for the aircraft with a mainline carrier.
Mainline regional fleets are nearly at their scope limits. A recent presentation by Indianapolis-based Republic found that only American had room for more large regional jets in its fleet under the contract with its pilots. Delta and United were at their limits with existing orders.
However, Delta’s pilot contract becomes amendable in December 2015, opening the door for additional relaxation in regional jet scope limits.