Lufthansa is unlikely to take a decision on the placement of its new regional aircraft in the near-term because of historical scope restrictions, which cap its regional carriers' aircraft size at 70 seats, writes Victoria Moores.

The five regional carriers of Star Alliance member Lufthansa - Air Dolomiti, Augsburg Airways, Contact Air, Eurowings and Lufthansa CityLine - operate a combined fleet of 145 aircraft across eight aircraft types.

Lufthansa has approved an order for 30 Embraer 190 family aircraft and 15 Bombardier CRJ900s, but a source says the allocation of aircraft between its carriers will not be defined until agreement is reached with the airlines' unions.

Its pilot scope clauses cover aircraft with more than 70 seats, operating under the Lufthansa brand, in which the carrier has a majority stake. Lufthansa fully owns Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa CityLine. It holds a 49% stake in Eurowings and has non-equity partnerships with Augsburg Airways and Contact Air. CityLine already operates CRJ900s and BAE Systems Avro RJs under a special union agreement.

As the Embraers will directly replace aircraft of similar capacity, a follow-on agreement looks likely. Aircraft from the 30-strong Embraer order are to replace a total of 38 aircraft, comprising 16 British Aerospace 146-300s, four 146-200s and 18 BAE Systems Avro RJ85s.

As the number of new aircraft falls short of the replacement total, all the BAe 146s will be phased out and some Avros will remain. This leaves scope for a subsequent order, especially as Swiss International Air Lines - being acquired by Lufthansa - will ultimately need to replace its own Avros.

Lufthansa's 15 CRJ900s will replace some of the 40 CRJ200s in the airline's regional fleet.

Source: Flight International