Air Kiribati Takes First Embraer E190-E2


Air Kiribati has received the first of two Embraer E190-E2 aircraft that it will receive over the next few months. The aircraft will be the first jet in Air Kiribati’s fleet alongside seven other aircraft. The airline hopes that the new addition will help to make it more competitive and open up the possibility of an international route network.

The first of two Embraer E190-E2 has arrived at Air Kiribati. Photo: Air Kiribati

A game-changing delivery

The Republic of Kiribati flag carrier has just taken delivery of its first Embraer E190-E2 jet. The aircraft registered as VH-IKJ has yet to arrive in Tarawa on the small island of Kiribati in Micronesia, although it has been formally accepted on 26th December 2019. The aircraft will be the first of its kind to enter the seven-strong fleet. Back in December 2018, the airline place two firm orders for the E190-E2 with Embraer. It also signed for the purchase rights of another two in a deal estimated to be worth around USD$243 million.

Air Kiribati is hoping that the acquisition of these new jets will help it secure a competitive edge. With longer range aircraft it will be able to serve new destinations like Australia and hopes to pitch itself as a strong contender against the opposition.

In a press release from around the time of the order, the Kiribati Government who owns the airline said it was impressed by the E190-E2 and it seemed to be just what it was looking for. It said:

“We were impressed with what we saw when the E190-E2 visited Kiribati in October. Given its impressive range, lower fuel consumption and maintenance costs and dual-class configuration that brings comfort to our passengers compared to its peers, the E190-E2’s capabilities empower us to enhance connectivity within our country and beyond, taking our nation to its next phase of growth.”

Next phase of growth

The excitement for Air Kiribati is only just beginning. In April 2020 it will receive the second of its Embraer fleet by which point it may already be looking at Australasian destinations to fly to. The airline has previously said that it was considering non-stop flights to Australia and New Zealand, however, none of these destinations have yet been confirmed.

The E190-E2 will allow Air Kiribati to alter its model. Photo: Steve Lynes via Wikimedia Commons

But the airline may not only have its sights set on these two countries. The new Embraer aircraft offer the airline a lot more potential than that. If Air Kiribati can secure slots at Australian airports, it will be able to provide connecting flights to other popular destinations in the region. Those routes could include the holiday islands of Indonesia as well as Papa New Guinea.

And that will be a welcome opportunity for Air Kiribati since it’s currently subservient to government funding. However, broaching into the tourism sector could be the exact recognition the airline needs to spike its reputation and profits. As to whether this scheme pays off, we will have to wait and see.


What is Air Kiribati?

Air Kiribati is the flag carrier of the Republic of Kiribati, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. The airline was founded in 1995 although it only served domestically on the 313 square mile island for 22 years. In 2017, Air Kiribati became an international carrier and its competitive global nature is now being realized with the advent of longer-range aircraft promising more profitable routes.

One of Air Kiribati’s Harbin Y-12E aircraft. Photo: Steve Bolton via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from the two Embraer aircraft, the airline also has a Dash 8-100, two DHC-6-400s, and three Harbin Y-12E.