Is the air transport industry ready to slump? Not necessarily, says the Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer, which is here in force promoting its E-Jets family of regional airliners

“We are in the middle of a challenging period, especially in the US. But we see that from our perspective things have been very positive so far,” says Mauro Kern, Embraer’s executive vice president, commercial aircraft. “The E-Jets are doing well. The 190/195 is a very interesting solution for airlines replacing old and inefficient aircraft; it’s also great for right-sizing. All this with a product that is equivalent or even superior in comfort, performance and economics.

He says: “The big advantage is the economics. Despite the challenging times it has a good position in the market place.” Kern believes that it is hard to make accurate predictions about the future because the market is changing so fast. “Oil prices are hurting everybody, and the market’s future very much depends on two things. How will the oil price change over the next 12 or 24 months? If it continues to increase, then the airlines will be hurt and have to increase prices. And it may affect the demand for air travel. You have to make some adjustments if the oil price stays at this level.”

 Mauro Kern - Embraer

Additionally, he believes it is vital to see what other economic factors are doing, like the credit crunch and the currency issues of Euro versus Dollar. “I think it is a time where everyone has to pay close attention to changes, and then what will be the outcome of the future of the whole airline business. It’s very hard to say we will have x% growth or decline, until it becomes more stabilised,” says Kern.

Even so, he is hopeful about the European market, which for Embraer represents 25% of its sales. Kern says it is a stable market and says it has not been hurt as severely by the oil price situation as the US. “But it is a time where everyone is paying a lot of attention to their investments. The EU has been a very good market for us and we are in a very good position. The E-Jets have been accepted well, in mainline, regional and low-cost areas. It’s a nice market,” adds Kern.

Embraer has a firm backlog of more than 400 E-Jets and Kern says that over 50% of the 190/195 aircraft are for right-sizing. “Right-sizing means replacing bigger jets with smaller aircraft with the same or better comfort level to allow more frequency and efficiency, which leads to a better service,” he says.

“If you compare the 190 to much older aircraft that are still in service it can offer up to 50% fuel burn savings,” he claims. “Times are changing so fast right now, and for us we have the E-Jets which are an effective tool for the airlines. They are fuel efficient and great for right-sizing. We believe we are in a good position to help the airlines in these hard times,” says Kern.

Source: Flight International