LOT Polish Airlines is to acquire up to 12 Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets as part of a major restructuring plan which is aimed at reversing three consecutive years of losses.

The carrier will use its new fleet of 50-seaters, replacing Boeing 737s, to boost frequencies on low-density routes to attract more passengers. The $200 million deal covers six firm orders plus six options, with deliveries starting in July. The order is the first the Brazilian manufacturer has won from an east European customer.

LOT president, Jan Litwinski, says: "On some of our routes we will be able to carry more passengers and thus be more competitive due to the more frequent use of smaller aircraft. The expansion of our network also requires that, before traffic grows, we start operations with-aircraft that are much smaller than our 737s."

The Polish flag-carrier's fleet comprises 15 737s and five 767s, while its regional subsidiary EuroLOT operates eight ATR 72s and three ATR 42s. The shift in fleet strategy follows a report complied by McKinsey and Company which suggested that LOT should serve fewer European destinations but increase frequencies on profitable routes.

LOT has a strategic alliance with British Airways and is basing its future growth plans around membership of the Oneworld grouping, which includes American Airlines, Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Source: Flight International