Airbus and Embraer see initiatives by Asia-Pacific airlines – including low-cost carriers – to reduce capacity on domestic and intra-regional routes and service frequencies offer significant sales opportunities for their respective A220 and E-Jet E2 families.
“Historically, the intra-regional and domestic APAC markets have been driven by the addition of new city pairs, with a significant portion being operated by LCCs,” said Claude Debeauquenne, Head of Single Aisle Market Development at Airbus. “The A220, with a lower cost per trip, is perfectly positioned to continue this trend into even tighter markets.”
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, as LCCs developed Asia-Pacific intra-regional and domestic route networks, their focus on reducing unit costs led them to build their fleets around a single family of aircraft. , said Raul Villaron, Vice President Asia-Pacific Asia for Embraer Commercial Aviation. Almost all have done so by ordering A320s and 737s, the large single-aisle families.
However, due to the traffic-killing effects of the pandemic, “demand is weaker than in the past and airlines are having to reduce frequencies or even wait” to resume services on the routes, Villaron said. Today, with traffic on many Asia-Pacific routes yet to recover, airlines with single-type fleets “have to rethink that paradigm” as they need the flexibility to adapt capacity on demand on each service.
Globally, utilization levels of the original generation Embraer E-Jet fleet recovered much faster after the onset of the pandemic than utilization levels of larger single-aisle and jumbo jets, he noted. The smaller capacities of E-Jets made them ideal for handling reduced traffic demand around the world. “This allows us to be optimistic” about the success the new E-Jet E2 family can achieve with carriers in Asia-Pacific, Villaron said.
Embraer considers the 195-E2 to be ideally suited for intra-regional and domestic routes in Asia-Pacific, especially those within and between major countries in the region. By making the 195-E2 fuselage 10% longer than the original 195, Embraer increased the seating capacity of the 195-E2 by 20%, to 146 seats.
At the same time, Embraer has increased the range of the 195-E2 to 2,600 nm, which is ideal for operating almost all intra-regional APAC routes now operated by larger single-aisle aircraft, according to Rodrigo Silva e Souza, vice- president of marketing for Embraer Commercial Aviation. “Not only did we address the unit cost, but the 195-E2 is capable of doing everything the Embraer 190 does,” he said.
The 195-E2 does more than that, added Villaron. By preserving and even going beyond the 25% fuel burn advantage that Embraer claims to hold on the larger A320neo, “it also comes very close to the seat cost” of the A320neo, significantly improving Embraer’s chances of penetrating the large Indian domestic market, as yet untapped for E-Jet sales, he said.
The 195-E2 is the lightest aircraft in the 150-seat class, providing maintenance cost advantages over competitors and a 10% fuel burn advantage over the Airbus A220 -300, while offering lower navigation costs and airport landing fees, according to Silva.
Powered by the same engine type as the A220 (only the Pratt & Whitney GTF model nomenclature differs between them), the 195-E2 offers higher engine operating temperature margins and requires a less powerful auxiliary power unit and requiring less maintenance than the A220, he mentioned. It also features longer cell maintenance intervals.
Additionally, Silva said, the E2 family’s operating noise levels are even lower than current 70-90-seat turboprops when operating on the airport surface, a potential business advantage in environments noise-sensitive operating systems, especially at airports close to city centres. For example, in Japan, where many original E-Jet models are still in service, carriers want aircraft with low operating noise levels, he said.
Embraer sees a wide variety of E2 sales opportunities in the region, particularly for an aircraft capable of operating the long routes over water from the South Pacific island chains to larger countries like the United States. Australia and New Zealand. “Reach is an important element” for such services, Villaron said. “We see great potential in Australia, New Guinea and Kiribati,” he noted.
Additionally, Asia-Pacific operators of the original E-Jet family are “natural candidates for E2s”, he said. “We are seeing strong interest from existing customers in Japan, Australia, Vietnam and Myanmar,” Villaron noted. “We also see great potential in markets where large populations live far apart: Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Nepal. There is already a 100-seat segment flying in Indonesia with Garuda and Sriwijaya Air.
“The pandemic has had major impacts there and we hope airlines will emerge with a greater focus on profitability, adjusting their capacity using efficient aircraft,” Villaron explained. “Indonesia and Malaysia offer direct replacement and downsizing opportunities, as operators there now fly large single-aisle aircraft at 30% load factors.” In the pre-pandemic days, load factors averaged 70% or more.
Embraer sees Australia as a major opportunity for the original E-Jet and E2 families. Alliance Airlines has already agreed to take 32 used Embraer 190s (18 of which will fly for Qantas on wet lease). However, Alliance and others also need to replace many aging Fokker 100s and BAe 146s, so Villaron believes Australian operators will take over 100 E-Jets from the original family. Australia now has four E-Jet operators: Alliance, Cobham Aviation, Air North and Pionair.
While many of the first-generation E-Jet flights in Australia will be charter and fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) cargo services, Embraer believes it will also provide a market for at least 100 E2s, many of which are under contract to Qantas’ regular network, even though Qantas ordered the similarly sized A220.
Korean Air’s fleet of 10 A220s achieved a very high level of on-time performance.
The Airbus A220 family
According to Airbus, the A220 is particularly well suited to the Asia-Pacific region, offering longer range capability, high levels of comfort and a 25% reduction in fuel burn compared to the airliner. previous generation he replaces, according to Debeauquenne. “We see great potential for the A220 as the ideal complement to the A320 Family, with a lower cost per trip,” he noted.
“[The A220-300’s] Range capability up to 3450 nm is a key selling point in the Asia-Pacific region, where distances are often long, over water and [serving] relatively remote places,” Debeauquenne said. The range of the two A220 models allows them to fly non-stop on the domestic networks of the region’s largest countries, such as Australia, China and India, a key advantage which led Qantas to select the model in the end. last year,” he explained.
“The [A220] can fly nonstop on international routes, connecting destinations in Southeast Asia to North Asia, or the Pacific Islands to Australia and New Zealand, or even North Australia to Southeast Asia,” added Debeauquenne. “Thus, it would allow the opening of new routes, both for leisure and business traffic.”
Following Qantas’ decision, Airbus continues to work on several promising campaigns in the region, the Airbus marketing manager reported, who further explained that the two A220 variants offer distinct market options for carriers. from Asia-Pacific.
“[The A220-100 provides] the least risky solution for opening new routes, for growing regional airlines and for urban and difficult airports,” he explained. “[The A220-300 represents] the best network feeder, lowest risk solution for A220-100 start-ups and growth.