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Air Kiribati to go the distance with Embraer E2 order

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 19, 2018
Two Embraer E2s are on order for Air Kiribati. (Embraer)

Tiny Air Kiribati is to significantly grow its fleet with the acquisition of two Embraer E190-E2 jets, for delivery in 2019.

Embraer announced on Wednesday the Government of Kiribati has signed a contract for two E2s with purchase rights on an additional two aircraft. If the two purchase rights are exercised, the deal would be worth US$243 million at list prices.

The orders follows a visit by Embraer’s E2 demonstrator to the Kiribati capital of Tarawa in October during a three-week Asia Pacific sales tour.

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“We were impressed with what we saw when the E190-E2 visited Kiribati in October,” said Willie Tokataake, Kiribati’s Minister for Information, Communication, Transport and Tourism Development.

“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.”

The order is a significant acquisition for the central Pacific island nation, which has a population of 110,000 people, comprises 33 coral islands which extend 3,900km from east to west, and spans all four hemispheres.

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“We warmly welcome Air Kiribati to the Embraer family and we will work closely with the airline as they transition to the E190-E2 through our extensive entry-into-service package and world-class support team in the region,” said Cesar Pereira, Asia Pacific vice-president, Embraer Commercial Aviation.

“Flying in the Pacific, over large bodies of water, requires outstanding range, performance and ample cargo capacity.”

The current Air Kiribati fleet comprises one Dash 8-100, one DHC-6 Twin Otter and three Harbin Y12 turboprops.

The E2’s 2,850nm range means the airline will be able to operate nonstop flights between Tarawa and Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, a domestic flight which currently requires an international stopover in Fiji.

The largest aircraft in the Air Kiribati fleet is currently a single Dash 8. (Air Kiribati)

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21 Comments

  • john doutch

    says:

    Is this a “silk road” loan

  • IWS

    says:

    This has serious ramifications for the airline and the nation. The Dash 8-100 is extremely old and maintenance intensive. Indications from the NZ Civil Aviation Authority is that the nation does not have the ability to maintain or operate the aircraft in accordance with the necessary standards. I understand and fully respect the nations desire to service the outer islands / communities but it really must walk before it can run. The in-service support costs will be prohibitively expensive to maintain the two new air frames. They are now looking at procuring a second maritime police wing patrol boat with all of the attendant costs. It will prove to be too much.

    • Mark

      says:

      IWS

      Presume all maintenance will be done in NZ ?

  • David

    says:

    maybe they have some charter work lined up ? What traffic rights do they have ?

  • David

    says:

    could they fly Brisbane/Tarawa/Honolulu for example ? Almost a straight line.

  • How ridiculous….a tiny nation attempting to go big time in one hit. I,d give them 6 months til they are repossessed! I know it’s this airy fairy dream of every Pacific island nation to see their flag and name on a shiny new aeroplane but a reality check here is needed. In the end someone is going to to lose a bucket full of money

    • John

      says:

      they probably said the same about Air Pacific/Fiji Airways, especially when they took on the lease(at killer rates) of the 2 x Ansett 744s(owned by Singapore Airlines).

      Presume Kiribati could export lots of fish, eg. to USA(Hawaii) & to Australia & NZ, but freight rates via Fiji would be expensive. (read ample cargo capacity)

      plus they might have got the money/credit in exchange for their vote at the U.N. like Taiwan did with Nauru. Heard that a number of the Nauru 733’s were virtually a gift.

      or China might be building a port in Kiribati somewhere ?

  • JAN

    says:

    this idea is a bit out of left field, but if Air Kiribati could fly Australia/Fiji/Kiribati it might help Fiji Airways, who in peak season never have enough seats Australia & NZ to Fiji.

    They could fly out of 2ndary Australian airports like Gold Coast & Canberra to Nadi(2 old Fiji airways routes that didn’t work) without restriction.

    plus they could fly Tarawa to Nadi instead of Fiji Airways (who fly roughly now tiwce a week with 737s) & also maybe Nauru to Tarawa taking over from Nauru Airlines (1 x 737 per week)

    plus there’s probably some aid money as well.

  • Mark

    says:

    Fiji Airways, the only really successful South Pacific airline, has I’m told, tended to dictate terms to other south pacific nations. Maybe this is a move to take over some of the air pacific regional flights & leave Fiji Airways to medium to long haul.

  • John

    says:

    if these aircraft have Australian VH registration like all Nauru 737s(or New Zealand registration) then they might have work doing domestic flights in Australia or New Zealand or even trans-Tasman.

  • Matt Green

    says:

    A country with a population of about 110,000, most living in poor conditions. How many seats are they hoping to fill in to be profitable. Fiji Airways operates these routes but most have interconnecting to AUS/NZ/Asia or even Fiji Domestic.
    Anyone remember for one year (2003), Air Kiribati leased ATR 72–200 (reg. T3-ATR; Its huge costs eventually led to a change in the President of Kiribati.

    • James

      says:

      Matt green. …..

      Maybe Tarawa will be alternative hub to nadi. Fijians can be hard to deal with.

      Population & wealth can therefore only have minor relevance

      • Matt Green

        says:

        Alternative hub? Well to what.
        Nadi…. from where. Most routes are operated direct to Nadi from aust. The geography location of Tarawa doesnt provide much options, for an investment of 200 million plus, when 737-400 could be pickup for dirt cheap.
        I have been to tarawa lately, the airline lacks infrastructure.
        I think it will be a wait and watch, but anything is possible

      • John

        says:

        yes JAMES

        Plenty of examples of small nations being a hub. Look at Singapore, Iceland etc. Could work with just 2 aircraft. Equivalent of 1 flying hard & other as back up (so both flying 50-60% of time would be ideal)

  • David

    says:

    just recd. this in my inbox from

    https://www.ch-aviation.com/portal/news/73908-air-kiribati-orders-22-e190-e2s

    20.12.2018 – 07:52 UTC

    Air Kiribati (IK, Tarawa) is set to become an Embraer Regional Jet operator after the Government of Kiribati signed an agreement with Embraer (EMB, São José dos Campos) for two firm-ordered E190-E2s with purchase rights for two more of the same type.
    The jets are slated to deliver during 2019 and will enable the Central Pacific island carrier to operate longer domestic and international routes.
    Air Kiribati currently operates two DHC-6-300s, two Y12s, and one Dash 8-100 on flights covering the I-Kiribati chain of islands as well as Funafuti in Tuvalu.
    The Kiribati Ministry of Finance’s November read-out states AUD20,783,398 Australian dollars (USD‪14,932,211) were allocated to the Embraer acquisition in the revised 2018 budget, presumably as a deposit. The government had previously planned to acquire an A320-200 for Air Kiribati using assistance from the Taiwanese government.
    Under its Vision 2016-2036 plan, the Kiribati government plans to improve local mobility by lowering costs through improved domestic/regional island and international connectivity. The former has already been facilitated through the acquisition of the Q100 as well as the upgrading of various airfields across Kiribati. The latter will be undertaken through the Embraer purchase and the review and establishment of Air Service Agreements with certain countries within the Pacific and beyond.

  • Mark

    says:

    maybe AIr Kiribati are actually working in with Fiji Air & taking some of their thin routes that don’t need a 737 off them. 100 seats instead of a 737 max with close to 200 seats.

  • Mark

    says:

    is this the aircraft that Pilbara Airlines will be using for international flights Port Hedland to Asia & back ?

  • Matt

    says:

    Mark,

    I just saw a picture on linked in with Air Kiribati and Pionair on E190-E2 entry into service. Could well possible be the operators for “Pilbara Airlinds”.

    • Mark

      says:

      where’s the picture ?

  • Ben

    says:

    Kiribati Government actually has positive impact to take over how costs some other airline operation. Well I been travel a lot comparing the air fees from Kiribati to Fiji return almost 3 time from fiji to NZ in a same distance. That could be remarkable.

  • WEBSTER FOROVA

    says:

    It will not work, with the distance between islands/airports where the E190 is able to land, it needs to take full fuel . Which
    means they have to leave some freight and/or passengers behind. So there will be not enough freight or passengers to pay for the fuel.

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