Air Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan, is looking to upgrade its existing order for five second-generation Embraer E-Jet Е2s to 15 of the type, the airline’s president Peter Foster has revealed to Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication ATO.ru.
The deal is currently under discussion and, if the outcome is positive, deliveries of the extra crossover jets may be scheduled for 2020 and 2021.
The Kazakh carrier initially placed a firm order for five new re-engined Embraer E190s to replace its fleet of earlier generation E190s, the lease period for which expires next year. The first of these new aircraft is scheduled to enter service with the operator in November, with a further four to join during 2019.
The type was chosen primarily for its commercial efficiency, Foster explains, adding that the stretched version of the model, the E195-E2 with a seat capacity of up to 144 passengers in single class configuration compared with 114 in the E190 variant, is being evaluated.
Air Astana is also considering the possibility of adding more Airbus A320neo family aircraft to its order of six A320neos, seven A321neos and four A321neo-LRs, with the intention of raising its order to 23 aircraft. Three aircraft (an A320 and two A321s) have already started operations for Air Astana, and the remaining 14 deliveries are spread throughout the 2018 and 2019 period.
All of the additional aircraft, both the A320neos and the E-Jets, are to be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan family engines, Foster reveals, adding that this aspect provides “a challenging” experience.
“It’s been quite challenging, — Foster said, — Because there were significant problems with the Pratt & Whitney engines, which resulted in delivery delays. That is why we now have only three aircraft of the six that we expected to have by now. But we do believe that these problems will be resolved. Fundamentally the operation of this type of aircraft is going well and we are saving around 16 per cent on fuel. So we think in the long term this can be a very good aircraft”.
Air Astana has a total of 32 western-built aircraft in its fleet, including Boeing 767-300ERs, Boeing 757-200s, Airbus A320s, A320neos and Embraer 190s. The airline has three Boeing 787-8s on order, which are scheduled to arrive in 2021. This year the carrier expects its fleet total to reach 36 aircraft, as Kazakhstan’s largest airline forecasts its traffic will reach five million passengers by the end of this year, up from the 4.2 million of last year.
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