Carrier rethinks plans for an all-A320 fleet as smaller E-Jet better suited to some routes

Saudi Arabian start-up NAS Air is looking at acquiring Embraer 190s to supplement its fleet of Airbus A320s, with a fleet of up to 30 aircraft ultimately envisaged.
Chief commercial officer Claus Fischer says the low-cost carrier recently began discussions with Embraer, and its parent company, business jet operator National Air Services, may soon place an order for several 190s.

NAS Air’s original business plan called for an all Airbus A320 fleet, increasing from two aircraft currently to 18 within two years. “The entire Embraer issue is about a week old. We decided not to go to Airbus all the way and look at alternatives,” Fischer says.

NAS Air’s executive team decided to look at smaller aircraft in part because it was having trouble securing enough A320s. But Fischer says small aircraft are also a better fit for several of the carrier’s planned routes. As part of the budget carrier licence it received last year from the government, NAS Air is required to fly into 20 small towns. Fischer says four or five of these have airports that cannot accommodate fully loaded A320s. He says NAS Air also plans to serve Abha – a hot and high airport that also cannot accommodate fully loaded A320s – from Riyadh and smaller cities.

The E-190 is also a better fit for several thin domestic routes and could also be used to open new international routes. If so, NAS Air may end up operating 25 to 30 E-190s, Fischer says.

If NAS acquires E-190s it will likely pursue a mix of leased and purchased aircraft with deliveries starting in 2008.

Source: Flight International