United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL: Quote), parent of United Airlines, on Monday placed a firm order to buy 30 regional jets from Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica S.A. or Embraer S.A. (ERJ: Quote).
The order, which will include options for 40 more of the same jets, is set for deliveries in 2014 and 2015, with first deliveries in the first quarter of 2014. If all options are exercised, the order has a combined estimated value of $2.9 billion at list prices.
The order for 30 Embraer 175 regional jets will boost the airlines' United Express fleet, and will be operated by a United Express partner. This will be the first order that United is placing for these 76-seat regional jets. United is already using ERJ-135, ERJ-145, EMB 120 and EMB 170 jets from Embraer, totaling 331 jets, in their fleet of regional aircraft. Continental Airlines was the launch customer for the ERJ 145 in 1996.
"At United, we are focused on modernizing our fleet, and we look forward to introducing the E175 to our United Express service. Compared to the 50-seat aircraft we are replacing, these aircraft provide a superior customer experience and are more fuel efficient," said Jim Compton, United's vice chairman and chief revenue officer.
The airline noted that new jets will improve regional flying experience for customers with its large first class cabin, wider fuselage, and larger overhead bins.
United Airlines is looking to replace its older Embraer ERJ-145 50-seat aircraft with these 76-seat regional jets, which will offer customers personal space with wider seats and aisles. It will also accommodate standard carry-on bags.
Further, the new aircraft will consume 10 percent less fuel per seat and emit lesser CO2 per seat than the older 50-seat aircraft they replace. The new jets from Embraer will be configured with 12 United First, 16 Economy Plus and 48 United Economy seats.
The E175 aircraft offers range of 3,706 km or 2000 miles nautical, ability to operate on short runways (Short Field Performance) and superior performance for operation at high temperatures and high altitudes. The ability of E175, along with their operational characteristics, make it the ideal aircraft for the U.S. market.
United Airlines and United Express operate an average of 5,446 flights a day to more than 370 airports across six continents.
ERJ closed Monday's regular trading session at $32.74, down $0.05 or 0.15% on a volume of 1.31 million shares, while UAL closed at $32.00, up $0.86 or 2.76% on a volume of 4.22 million shares.
by RTT Staff Writer
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