Photomontage by Riccardo Flask / MAviO News
During the first quarter of 2017, there was a frenzy of activity going on at KM’s Sky Parks offices as Embraer sent a high-level delegation to pitch what was then the new E2 series to the Maltese national carrier. Until today, little has been known about these meetings which have been largely kept under wraps, but now MAviO News has been able to delve more into what went on behind the scenes during these attempts by the Brazilian manufacturer to get Air Malta within its fold. Embraer executives pitched the E2 as an ideal replacement for Air Malta’s then Airbus A319 fleet.
Embraer emphasised that the E2 provided right-sizing and more importantly offered new market opportunities through lower risk and flexibility. The Brazilian manufacturer highlighted how E-jets were being profitably employed within the Mediterranean basin and beyond by TAP Air Portugal, Air Europa, Royal Air Maroc, Alitalia CityLiner and Arkia among others. The E2 family has a dedicated wing for each member of the family, thus ensuring at least 16% fuel consumption advantage over other aircraft in the same category. This is achieved also through other enhancements put in place in the E2 which included new Geared Fan Engines, improved avionics and aerodynamic optimization.
The presentation also focused specifically on Air Malta’s route structure and economics. Among the highlights, it emerged that a staggering 44% of flights in Winter carry less than 120 passengers. Embraer points out that with a fleet of 168/180 seat aircraft, flying such routes was economically challenging. When pitching the E2 against the A319ceo then in Air Malta’s fleet it was noted that 80% of routes in Winter were less than daily. The figure drops to 55% in Summer. Crucially, Air Malta drops fares on 71% of its routes in Winter.
Since then, Air Malta has given the cold shoulder to Embraer and remained loyal to Airbus, although the Sao Paolo based aircraft manufacturer might still try to tempt the highest echelons at Level 2, knowing fully well the post-pandemic airline scene will see some massive plate tectonic movement within the Mediterranean aviation scene.