Dutch regional carrier KLM Cityhopper has today taken delivery of its first Embraer 190 twin-jet during a ceremony in Brazil.
Cityhopper, which is one of Air France-KLM Group's regional airlines, is an all-Fokker operator but placed a firm order for 10 Embraer 190s in July last year. It hold options on a further nine aircraft.
Speaking at Embraer's Sao Jose dos Campos headquarters during a media briefing to mark the arrival of the first aircraft, KLM Cityhopper managing director Michel Coumans praised the Embraer 190's fuel efficiency, its high cruising altitude and the type's cabin-baggage capacity.
"We are very pleased to take delivery of our first Embraer 190 jet and welcome it to KLM's European network. The aircraft will enable us to improve our operational performance throughout Europe with a superior product for our customers, while considerably reducing emissions," he adds.
Coumans says the first aircraft, which will arrive in Amsterdam on 10 November and is due to enter commercial service on 17 November, will operate services to Munich, Zurich and Edinburgh.
The next addition, which is already in the advanced stages of assembly, is slated for arrival in mid-December and will be deployed on services to Aberdeen, Manchester and Geneva. A third example will arrive in February, serving Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hamburg, although Coumans says the exact deployments are all tentative at this stage. The remainder of the deliveries will be completed by March 2010.
Cityhopper has chosen to configure its Embraer 190s with 100 seats. The layout includes up to 40 business class seats with a 32in seat pitch and 60 in the economy class cabin at a 31in pitch.
Coumans says his carrier has benefited from sharing knowledge from the experiences of its sister carrier Regional, which is already operating the type. KLM Cityhopper's pilots have used this partnership to build up hours and experience on Regional's Embraer 190s ahead of the type's introduction into the Dutch carrier's fleet.
This operational crossover, together with the original jointly-negotiated order and common aircraft specifications, has saved the two airlines millions, says Coumans.
KLM Cityhopper operates 20 Fokker 100s, 21 Fokker 70s and 12 Fokker 50 turboprops. The Embraer 190 will ultimately replace all of KLM Cityhopper's Fokker 100s, 15 of which will be phased out by 2009-10 leaving it with just five of the type.
Although this marks the start of a seven-year Fokker phase-out, Coumans stresses that he remains committed to Fokker operations. He says KLM Cityhopper is to take five ex-Regional Fokker 70s which are being replaced by the French carrier's own Embraer additions.
He says: "We will add a number of Fokker 70s. We are very happily flying the Fokker 70. It is unfortunate that [new] Fokkers are not being sold in the market anymore. We are taking over the Fokker 70s that Regional was operating."