Guy Norris / Palm Springs & Brian Dunn / Montreal

Manufacturer leaves forecasts unchanged after airline pushes back 170/190 deliveries

Embraer has left its delivery forecast unchanged for next year despite last week's request by Swiss International Air Lines to postpone delivery of the 170s and 195s it has on order, as the Brazilian manufacturer chases Air Canada's regional fleet replacement order.

Speaking at last week's Speednews regional and corporate suppliers conference in Palm Springs, California, Embraer market intelligence director Orlando Neto said: "It is a pity, but it is a fact of life for [Swiss]. They are still partners with us, and it opens up slots for new customers in the short term." The company is still officially listing 120 orders and 128 options for the Embraer 170; 110 orders and 150 options for the 190; 15 orders and 30 options for the 195; and 160 total aircraft deliveries for 2004.

Last week Swiss asked Embraer to delay by a year delivery of the 15 170s and 15 195s it has on order, which were due to start arriving in September 2004. But the Brazilian manufacturer says no decision on the request has been reached.

The company remains undaunted in its general growth forecast of the 61- to 90-seat and 91- to 120-seat markets over the next 20 years. It predicts a requirement for 1,300 and 1,250 aircraft in the two size categories from 2004 to 2013, and a further 1,600 and 1,700, respectively, in the years 2014-23.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government is trying to create a low-cost financial package that would allow Bombardier to compete on an equal footing with Embraer for Air Canada's regional jet requirement. Because Air Canada and Bombardier are both Canadian companies, the deal cannot benefit from Canadian government financing available for foreign buyers. Air Canada would, however, be eligible for Brazilian government financing if it were to choose Embraer jets. To avoid such an embarrassment, Ottawa feels it must act quickly as Air Canada says it is close to making a decision.

Bankruptcy-protected Air Canada is looking to order up to 43 regional jets valued at C$1.3 billion ($1 billion) in an effort to reduce its capacity, and the airline already operates Bombardier aircraft including CRJs. Some analysts feel Embraer has the upper hand over Bombardier in the competition as its larger aircraft better suit Air Canada's requirements.

Source: Flight International