Congo Airways Orders Two Embraer E175s

Flag carrying airline of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Airways, has placed a firm order with Embraer for two of its smallest E-jets. The order, signed today, is for two E-175 jets, with options to purchase a further two later on.

Congo Airways has ordered up to four E-jets. Photo: Embraer

Details of the order

DRC headquartered Congo Airways has firmed up a deal with Embraer for two E175 aircraft. The deal, signed earlier today, also includes options for a further two A175s later on. IF all purchase rights are exercised, this agreement would be worth $194.4m at list prices.

CEO of Congo Airways, Desire Bantu, commented on the order in a press release, saying,

“These new jets will replace our current turboprop offering and allow us to serve routes both within the Democratic Republic of Congo, and regionally to West, Central, and Southern Africa, from our hub in Kinshasa.”

Congo Airways is a small airline with just four aircraft in its fleet. Its two Airbus A320-200s are complemented by two Bombardier Dash-8 Q400s. It is these two turboprops that the airline is looking to phase out, presumably because the E-jets have a greater range.

Congo airways A320
The airline will fly the E-jets alongside its two A320s. Photo: Congo Airways

The E-175s will be delivered in a two class layout, with a total passenger capacity of 76 people. There will be 12 business class seats on board. Deliveries are slated to begin in the final quarter of 2020.

Could Congo Airways purchase the E2 in future?

While it’s great to see Congo Airlines lining up to begin fleet renewal, the question has to be asked, why the old Embraer? Why would you plum for an E-Jet when the E2 is alive and kicking? The likely reason is because the smallest version of the E2, the E175-E2, has its entry into service pushed back to 2021. Congo perhaps need their aircraft sooner, but that doesn’t mean that the E2 is not on the  future cards for this little airline.

Within the same press release, Congo’s CEO Bantu went on to say,

“We will now have the flexibility and the right sized aircraft to serve our market, which is growing so rapidly an additional order may be required, for which the E2 is a particularly compelling option.”

Embraer E2 techlion
The E195-E2 is nicknamed the Profit Hunter. Photo: Embraer

The Embraer E2 is a marked step up from the original E-jets. While it maintains that comfortable cabin of the original large regional aircraft, the E2 adds a bunch of modern features to make the aircraft competitive in the modern space. The E2 has a newly designed wing for efficiency, new advanced digital fly by wire, to reduce trim drag and therefore fuel consumption, and lower maintenance costs.

The E2 family of jets are proving to be a popular choice with many airlines. Norwegian regional airline Wideroe was the launch customer of the E190-E2, whereas Brazil’s Azul was the launch customer of the larger E195-E2.

Still on the table is the deal with Boeing to migrate Embraer into Boeing Brasil-Commercial. Despite receiving shareholder approval in February this year, an EU antitrust probe has slowed down the implementation of the deal. The parties now expect it to be well into 2020 before the agreement is fully implemented. It’s not known at this stage whether the Embraer E jets will receive a name change then.