A deal from China Eastern Airlines subsidiary Jiangsu Airlines for five Embraer ERJ-145s has ensured that local production in Harbin will continue in the short term.

The airline will become the type's third Chinese operator when it takes delivery of the aircraft in August. The five aircraft, ordered on 23 March, will be the second batch of ERJ-145s to be assembled by joint-venture company Harbin Embraer following six ERJ-145s that were delivered to China Southern Airlines from June 2004 to February 2005. Embraer China managing director Guan Don Yuan says the Harbin Embraer assembly line has been kept active since the last China Southern aircraft was completed, because the joint-venture company was "confident in the market". The order from China Eastern was long anticipated, but Embraer was hoping to sell the carrier at least 10 aircraft.

Wuhan Airlines, which was taken over by China Eastern in 2002, signed a memorandum of understanding in 2001 for 10 Brazilian-built ERJ-145s. But China Eastern has decided to base ERJs in the Jiangsu capital of Nanjing, rather than the Hubei province capital of Wuhan, and halved the original order to five aircraft.

Harbin Embraer still hopes for follow-on orders from China Southern, China Eastern and Sichuan Airlines, which operates five Brazilian-made ERJ-145s. Harbin Embraer is also aggressively marketing ERJs to Air China, the only major Chinese airline with no Embraer aircraft.


Source: Flight International