Flybe placed orders and options for 26 Embraer 195s last week, saying it chose the 118-seater over 150-seat types after being convinced by its size, economics and performance benefits. The UK regional carrier has ordered 14 E-195s and placed options for a further 12 others worth up to $870 million.

The deal gives the Brazilian manufacturer its first solid customer for the type as doubts continue to linger over whether Swiss International Air Lines will switch its launch order for the E-195 to E-190s instead. The E-195 is in flight-test and the development aircraft is on display at the Paris air show wearing Flybe logos.

The twinjets will be delivered between August 2006 and November 2007, and will replace Flybe’s fleet of BAe 146-200/300s – of which it has 14, which are 10-20 years old. They will also replace the three Boeing 737-300s which are on lease to the carrier.

Flybe managing director Jim French says the airline will be able to use the E-195’s range to develop routes from all of its UK regional bases to international destinations in areas such as the Mediterranean. “Our international services have been constrained by the physical limits of the current fleet,” he says.

French says that Flybe rejected larger aircraft types: “We looked at the classic 150- to 180-seat aircraft from Boeing and Airbus but decided that these were simply too big, in our belief, for our market. We needed to meet the needs of the regional market.” French says the carrier had been attracted by the E-195’s projected performance figures two years ago and says it nearly opted to acquire the type at that time. He adds the E-195 will have 20% lower fuel consumption per seat than the 146s.

Completion will give Flybe a single-type jet fleet to complement its single-type turboprop fleet of Bombardier Q400s. French says: “That’s very important to us – we wanted a two-fleet strategy.”


Source: Flight International