LONDON – Air Kiribati, the national carrier for the Government of Kiribati, signed a deal with Embraer for up to four E190-E2s.

The deal highlights two firm units and two options, where if exercised, will be valued at around $243 million at current list prices. The first aircraft is scheduled for a 2019 delivery.

According to Air Kiribati, the planes will be used for fleet expansion, as the carrier only has four aircraft in its fleet: a Dash 8 Q100 registered as T3-AKA, which only seats 37 people, as well as one De Havilland DHC6-300 Twin Otter and 3 Harbin Y-12 IVs.

The airline did have an ATR 72, registered T3-ATR since May 2002, but was only kept for around two years.

The huge costs of the ATR led to a change in the President of Kiribati as it became a national scandal regarding how much money it was losing at the time.

Hon. Willie Tokataake, the Minister for Information, Communication, Transport, and Tourism Development of the Kiribati Government stated how “impressed” he was with the Embraer E2 when it visited in October on its demonstration tour.

“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,” he said.

The E190-E2’s range, recorded at 2,850 nautical miles, means that the carrier can now connect over the vast expanse of Kiribati, especially in offering direct services between Christmas Islands and Tarawa directly.

The current service between the two destinations requires international stopovers in Fiji due to range constraints.

It will also offer further capacity opportunities, especially as the E190-E2 sits 114 passengers compared to the Dash 8-Q100’s 37 seats, offering better efficiency in capacity and in range too.