By Gabriel Araujo
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian planemaker Embraer has been trying to sell U.S. carriers on the merits of its E195-E2 jet as a "small narrow-body", even as demand in its No.1 market has remained focused on the smaller, first generation E175-E1.
The world's third-largest planemaker after Boeing and Airbus amassed fresh orders for 23 E175-E1 planes from both American Airlines and SkyWest in the third quarter, but sees room for its second generation plane to notch up its first orders there too.
"It is an aircraft that can very well complement the operation of large narrow-bodies," Chief Executive Francisco Gomes Neto said in an interview on Monday.
Breaking into the U.S. market with E2 family would be an important step for the planemaker to further improve its production mix, which this year should show for the first time more second generation jets being delivered than first generation ones.
Gomes Neto said he hopes that new flights by Canada's Porter Airlines to cities such as San Francisco and Tampa will help showcase the plane to U.S. carriers.
The Canadian firm ordered dozens of planes from Embraer since 2021, making it the first E2 customer in North America.
The E195-E2 seats up to 146 passengers, while the E175-E1 has up to 88 seats.
"I think we'll manage to convince them that the E195-E2 is not a regional plane, but what we've been calling a 'small narrow-body' that the majors could operate very efficiently, helping them offer a higher frequency of flights during the day, explore routes, open routes," Gomes Neto said.
"We have a huge opportunity in the U.S."
He mentioned KLM and Brazil's Azul as airlines that have succeeded in operating both the E195-E2 and larger narrow-bodies such as the Airbus A320. The Dutch carrier also flies the E175.
"It's a very efficient aircraft. When you fly it with an 80% load factor it's very, very profitable, and that's the point we've been trying to show the U.S. majors."
That doesn't mean, however, that demand for the E175-E1 would necessarily drop, the executive noted, adding that the company forecasts demand of at least 300 aircraft within the next 10 years.
As the recent pilot shortage seen in the U.S. eases, Gomes Neto said, operators of the E175-E1, which Embraer has dubbed the backbone of the U.S. regional aviation market, will tend to make fleet renewal efforts.
"It's a versatile plane that meets that regional aviation demand very well," the CEO said. "So we do expect very good demand for it, but we are already working to also convince airlines about the E2's potential."
(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; editing by David Evans)