Brazil, Russia win regional jet orders battle at Farnborough

21st July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Brazilian and Russian planemakers have won the race for orders of small regional jets at the Farnborough airshow, leaving new player Japan and Canada's Bombardier trailing.

Airlines and leasing companies have splashed billions of dollars on planes seating around 100 passengers from Brazil's Embraer and Russia's Sukhoi but have sat tight regarding Mitsubishi's new planned jet and Bombardier's CSeries.

Short-haul planes are being snapped up to meet soaring demand for air travel across emerging markets, especially in Asia, and ahead of an expected upturn in European and US economic growth.

Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi revealed on Wednesday it had sold 30 single-aisle Superjet 100s worth more than 900 million dollars (702 million euros) to leasing group Pearl Aircraft Corporation.

Pearl also has an option to buy 15 more of the planes, according to an announcement at the Farnborough International Airshow near London.

"We are convinced it is the best 100-seat aircraft available and proposed," said Pearl's chief executive Jan Soderberg. "Its superior economics outclass all its competitors."

Sukhoi also announced at the biennial Farnborough event the sale of 30 Superjet 100s to Indonesian regional carrier Kartika Airlines, confirming a preliminary agreement.

By contrast Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), which is making Japan's first ever passenger jet, failed to secure any new orders at Farnborough.

"We have been trying very hard to make an announcement during the show but unfortunately we couldn't make it, but we are expecting to reach some agreement in the foreseeable future," MRJ's head of sales, Masao Yamagami, told reporters.

The state-backed company is expected to take to the skies in 2014 with its 70-90 seater fuel-efficient planes. MRJ is also looking into building a 100-seater aircraft.

The ambitious project did however receive a huge boost ahead of Farnborough when MRJ landed a 100-plane order worth up to 4.0 billion dollars from US carrier Trans States.

It is the second order for the MRJ, which aims to meet growing demand for small fuel-efficient planes.

The project officially got off the ground in 2008 after launch customer All Nippon Airways agreed to buy up to 25 of the jets.

But it quickly flew into turbulence as the global economic downturn unleashed a severe slump in the aviation industry that forced many carriers, including Japan Airlines, to slash jobs and routes to keep flying.

There was also disappointment at Farnborough for Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, which had hoped to announce a deal to sell its new CSeries jet to Qatar Airways.

The Gulf carrier said it was still interested in acquiring the plane after snapping up two Bombardier Global 5000 business jets worth a combined 90 million dollars.

The biggest success of the regionals went to Embraer, which on Tuesday unveiled a deal to sell up to 140 of its small jets worth a combined 5.0 billion dollars.

Embraer said British low-cost airline Flybe agreed to buy at least 35 Embraer 88-seater E175 jets. Flybe also has options to buy another 65 planes, and purchase rights for a further 40.

Competition in the small jet sector looks set to intensify as China is also looking to enter the market.

The Farnborough International Airshow near London is one of aviation's biggest trade events and renowned for being an arena for major sale announcements of commercial aircraft.

There have also been deals this week for mid-sized planes made by aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus.

Over the show's three days customers have signalled their intention to snap up passenger planes worth more than 50 billion dollars in total, mostly from US group Boeing and its fierce European rival Airbus.

© 2010 AFP

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