Austrian Airlines’ supervisory board has approved the purchase of 17 Embraer 195s from sister Lufthansa Group company CityLine, to replace 15 aging Fokker 100s and seven Fokker 70s Austrian now has in service.
In return, CityLine will receive up to 21 Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen jets from sister Lufthansa Group carrier Eurowings.
Eurowings ‒ into which Lufthansa Group’s existing Germanwings low-cost operation will eventually be merged, to create an airline with more than 100 aircraft ‒ is re-fleeting with Airbus A320-family jets as a result of the group’s decision to create a new, lower-cost operation for operations both throughout Europe and on long-haul leisure routes.
According to Austrian Airlines, each of the 17 Embraer 195s it is buying is “in almost new condition” ‒ Lufthansa CityLine took delivery of the 17 aircraft from 2009 to 2012 ‒ and the estimated list-price value of the purchase is “close to US$900 million”.
“A decision was made today on one of the largest investment projects in the history of Austrian aviation. 900 jobs are directly connected to this investment program,” says Andreas Otto, chief commercial officer of Austrian Airlines.
Austrian Airlines will take delivery of its first Embraer 195 in August, with the aircraft to be modified in line with Austrian Airlines cabin-interior and operation standards and used for training.
Nearly 200 Austrian Airlines pilots will be re-trained to operate the Embraer 195, beginning this fall.
Austrian Airlines is planning for its first commercial flight with the Embraer 195 to take place in January 2016.
With 120 seats in Austrian Airlines configuration, the Embraer 195 is considerably larger than the Fokker aircraft it will replace. Austrian operates each Fokker 70 in 80-seat configuration, while each Fokker 100 has 100 seats.
At present, the Lufthansa CityLine Embraer 195s have an average age of four years, compared to an average age of about 21 years for Austrian’s Fokker fleet. As a result, the replacement of the aircraft will significantly rejuvenate the Austrian Airlines fleet, the airline says.
According to Austrian, the Embraer 195 uses about 18 per cent less fuel per aircraft seat than do the Fokker jets, on equivalent sectors.
Through Tyrolean Airways, Austrian has operated Fokker 70s since 1994 and Fokker 100s since 2004. However, the Fokker 100 first entered service in 1986 and the Fokker 70 entered service in 1993.
According to Austrian Airlines, the Embraer 195 also cruises at a faster speed and has a higher cruise ceiling than do the Fokker 70 and Fokker 100. The Embraer jet cruises at 451kt (835km/h), while the Fokker 70 and Fokker 100 cruise at 408kt (755km/h).
The Embraer 195’s service ceiling is 41,000ft (12,500m), whereas the service ceiling for the Fokker 70 and Fokker 100 is 39,000ft (11,900m).
However, although the Embraer 195 has a much higher maximum gross take-off weight (MGTOW) than does the Fokker 70, at 112,000lb (50.8 tonnes) compared with the Fokker 70’s 88,185lb (40.0 tonnes), its range is very similar to the smaller of the two Fokker jet types currently in Austrian Airlines service.
The Embraer 195 has a range with maximum payload of 1,190nm (2,204km), while the Fokker 70 has a 1,157nm (2,143km) range with maximum payload.
However, the Fokker 100, which has a MGTOW of 98,105lb (44.5 tonnes), has a markedly inferior range than both other types, offering a range with maximum payload of 1,013nm (1,876km), according to Austrian Airlines.
Austrian Airlines also operates a short-haul fleet of 18 Bombardier Q400 turboprop regional airliners.