Regional jet sales below 90 seats have been shrinking during the past few years, but aircraft manufacturers remain confident there is still healthy customer demand for these products.
Speaking at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading conference in Rome, John Slattery, Embraer's senior vice president of sales finance said regional jet operators in the 40-60 seat market have been looking to upgrade to larger aircraft.
He emphasises that North American carriers are looking at 76-78 seat replacements. "That activity is going on right now and by 2015, it will be gone," he comments.
"That market for Embraer is important and it may even eclipse our Embraer 190 activity," he adds.
Bombardier Commercial Aircraft's vice president marketing Philippe Poutissou said there has been a shift in demand for regional jets below 90 seats from North America and Europe. Fuel prices have affected sales, he says.
However, he remains confident more activity in that market is around the corner. "It is a big feature for us and some volume deals will be coming out of the USA as a result of contracts being negotiated," he comments.
Mitsubishi Corporation's executive vice president Junichi Miyakawa sees the market for up to 100 seat regional jets as constrained by "artificial barriers" like scope clauses. "It is a promising market and this is why the market is so crowded in terms of manufacturers," he said.