Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which operates the world’s largest fleet of Embraer E-Jets fleet, has ordered 47 Embraer 175 jets and optioned 47 more, creating a potential order for up to 94 of the type.
According to Embraer, if Republic Airways Holdings exercises all its options, the deal could reach a total value of approximately $4 billion in 2013 dollars at list prices.
The order follows the signing of a 12-year capacity purchase deal between American Airlines and Republic Airways Holdings for the regional-airline holding company to acquire 53 Embraer 175 jets.
All will be branded with the newly revealed American Eagle livery and operated by Republic Airlines.
Because American Airlines and American Eagle are under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the deal is subject to court approval, which American and Republic expect to obtain in the first quarter of this year.
Republic Airlines will operate the Embraer 175s with a dual-class cabin layout. Each aircraft will seat 76 passengers, with 12 in First Class and 64 in the Main Cabin.
The Republic Airways Holdings subsidiary will phase its new Embraer 175 jets into service at a rate of approximately two to three aircraft per month, beginning in mid-2013. All 53 aircraft are expected to be in operation by the first quarter of 2015.
“It is significant that our long-time, valued customer Republic Airways – a true innovator in the regional transport business – is the first customer for the enhanced E175,” says Paulo Cesar Silva, president and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation. “It’s a perfect example of how our investments in product development make our customers more competitive in their markets.”
Embraer is continuing to invest in its E-Jets family, which is flown by some 60 airlines from 40 countries. The Brazilian manufacturer has begun implementing a series of enhancements to the current generation of E-Jets, including new wingtips, systems optimization and aerodynamic refinements to lower fuel burn by up to 5 per cent.
Republic will be the first customer to receive Embraer 175 aircraft with these enhancements. Longer maintenance intervals and component improvements will increase aircraft productivity and lower maintenance costs, according to Embraer.
“This is a significant milestone in our company’s history,” says Chuck Schubert, American Airlines’ vice president – network planning. “Establishing a large regional jet fleet has long been part of our business plan and this agreement is another example of how we are executing on that plan in a way that benefits our business and our customers.”
Adds Schubert: “We will offer more flights at the right intervals throughout the day in key markets while providing more opportunities for customers to travel in the First Class cabin to key business markets.”
More than 150 Embraer 175s are currently in service with 12 carriers. The Embraer 175 has no over-wing exits that can restrict seat placement, potentially giving operators more flexibility in configuring the aircraft’s cabin.
The Embraer 175’s 2,000-nautical mile (3,706-kilometer) range, short field performance and superior hot and high capability make the aircraft ideal for a North American network, according to the manufacturer.
Republic Airways was the first U.S. carrier to fly Embraer E-Jets. It acquired Embraer 170s in 2004 and still operates those aircraft today on behalf of United Express.
With this new order, Republic Airways’ E-Jet fleet will be comprised of 72 Embraer 170s and 107 Embraer 175s, for a total of 179 Embraer E-Jets and 226 if Republic exercises all 47 options it has taken.
Republic Airways is also a long-time customer of the Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet family, with 70 flying on contracts with several U.S. regional carriers. Republic’s Chautauqua Airlines subsidiary operates services for American from the major carrier’s hub at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, with 15 Embraer ERJ-140 regional jets.
Based in Indianapolis, Republic Airways Holdings is an airline holding company that owns Chautauqua Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Republic Airlines and Shuttle America.
These airlines operate a combined fleet of more than 280 aircraft and offer scheduled passenger service on nearly 1,500 flights daily to more than 145 cities in the U.S. as well as to the Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico under branded operations at Frontier, and through fixed-fee flights operated under airline partner brands.
Partner brands include AmericanConnection, Continental Express, Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express. Republic Airways Holdings’ four airlines currently employ a total of approximately 10,000 people.