Aerolineas E-190 deliveries could begin in 4Q

By Brendan Sobie

Embraer is prepared to begin E-190 deliveries to Aerolineas Argentinas late this year should the renationalised carrier finalize a pending deal for 22 E-190s.

Embraer, backed by Brazilian development bank BNDES, has been negotiating an agreement with the Argentine government during the last several months covering at least 20 E-190s. The Argentine government, which took back control of Aerolineas and domestic subsidiary Austral last year, reportedly has already signed a letter of intent for 22 E-190s and is close to signing a firm contract.

Embraer's VP of commercial aviation for the Latin American market, Luiz Hamilton Lima, says an order has not yet been placed but there is a desire to begin deliveries "as soon as possible" after the deal is completed. "We have the flexibility to accommodate them towards the end of this year, in the fourth quarter," Lima tells ATI.

Argentina's purchase of E-190s is one part of a major fleet revamp that has been in the works for several months at Aerolineas and Austral. The Argentine government is also looking at acquiring new narrowbodies and widebodies, possibly by taking over part of the Airbus order placed in 2007 by Spanish travel group Marsans, which at the time owned Aerolineas and Austral.

According to Flight's ACAS database, Aerolineas' active narrowbody fleet consists of nine 737-200s and 17 737-500s while Austral currently operates 18 Boeing MD-80s. E-190s could be used to replace about half of these ageing narrowbodies while the other half could be replaced with A320s and/or Boeing 737-800s.

"We're still negotiating with Argentina. There's a lot of interest there," Lima says. "They're completely renewing the fleet for Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral. We'll be part of that renovation."

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