Embraer has confirmed that it hopes to keep its Chinese assembly plant open by possibly manufacturing its E-190 regional jet there.

The Harbin plant manufactures the ERJ-145, with the last aircraft to be delivered to Hainan Airlines in the first half of 2011. The Brazilian airframer is keen to keep the factory going to meet demand from Chinese carriers for regional jets, says Mauro Kern, Embraer's executive vice-president for the airline market.

"We are discussing the different alternatives for the way forward with the plant," he adds. "It is possible to assemble the E-190 there. We want to keep the plant open as we see a huge market in China."

While the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) is developing the ARJ21 regional jet, which will compete with the Embraer aircraft, Kern says that the demand is big enough for the two companies to co-exist.

"While China is a big market, the demand is much higher than what the ARJ21 can meet. We are confident that there is room for the Embraer 190/195 in China," he adds.

Across Asia, he adds, there will be growing demand for regional jets as airlines replace larger aircraft on routes that demand higher frequencies.

"Globally, 50% of all E-Jet flights are on routes where they have replaced larger aircraft. This will take place in Asia as well," says Kern. "More airlines will start direct flights to underserved destinations, and add frequencies on existing routes using smaller and more efficient aircraft. This is where our aircraft come in."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news