Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana foresees that its Embraer 190-E2s will open up new destinations in eastern Europe and China.

Speaking at a media briefing in Astana today, as the airline celebrated delivery of the first of five E190-E2s under a lease deal with AerCap, Air Astana chief executive Peter Foster said that the jet's operating range of approximately 5,300km would create "significant possibilities" to serve points that are "far more distant than we would ever have imagined operating small aircraft" to before.

He notes that the longest routes that Air Astana operates with its E190-E1s are to Tbilisi, Baku, and Dubai during the summer season.

Foster says the airline has been "reliably informed" by E2 launch operator Wideroe that the jet can deliver fuel savings of 17% compared with the E1 on stage lengths of around 2h. Air Astana might therefore be able to do "quite a lot" with the new jet, he adds.

Air Astana's first E2 will make a positioning flight from Astana to Almaty on 19 December. Commercial services will begin in January.

Foster notes that the airline's E190-E1s, which are being replaced with the E2s, will be phased out through 2021. Flight Fleets Analyzer indicates that Air Astana has nine E190s in service.

Air Astana's plan to entirely replace the E1s with E2s, while pursuing an "expanded regional-jet" programme into 2025, "implies" that the airline will order E2s additional to the four it is receiving next year, Foster acknowledges.

Source: Cirium Dashboard