PHOTO: Embraer Media.
Reported by Enrique Perrella in São Paulo, and James Field

SÃO PAULO — Widerøe’s CEO, Stein Nielsen, gave a briefing at Embraer’s final assembly line talking about how the new E190-E2 will join his fleet and how it will change the landscape for an airline that’s been primarily a turboprop operator.

READ MORE: Embraer Gives Update on the E-Jet E2 Program Ahead Of First Delivery

Widerøe’s Fleet

Widerøe’s fleet consists of 22 Bombardier Dash 8-100s, three Bombardier Dash 8-Q200s (39 seats), six Q300s (50 seats) and ten Q400s (78 seats).

Stein Nielsen, the CEO of Widerøe gave a brief history of the airline:

“The airline was established in Oslo in 1934. It is the oldest airline in Oslo. We have over 450 departures every day. Most airports in our networks require short takeoff and landing capabilities. Our flight operation environment is very tough.

This is the backbone of transportation in Norway. If Wideroe has problems flying, there are very few other opportunities for people to move around the country.

Our history is all about doing things other airlines don’t want to do. Others don’t want to take the challenges we take every day. There is no viable rail competition in Norway.

What usually takes 55 minutes of flying, a train usually takes up to eight hours. We have RNP technology equipped in several airports in the northern region of Norway.

This allows us to operate in difficult conditions, especially during winter times, when we have three full months of total darkness and ice and wind are extremely volatile.”

READ MORE: Embraer to Deliver First E190-E2 to Widerøe This Spring

Nielsen’s emphasis on Norwegians and Scandinavians is important. The Norwegian geography demands highly on their operations. Cities are separated by numerous fjords, so it would take several hours to drive between them, whereas flying takes as short as six minutes on some flights.

“We are operating in different markets with different challenges. We have been in Norway forever. We have, from time to time, some competitors trying to start up. But they struggle to set up a robust operation. We are very focused on developing a stronger operation,” he said.

Moving towards the E190-E2, Nielsen said:

“The E190-E2 represents a big step for Wideroe. We are always willing to take a challenge. What we see in some of our routes is that we need new technologies, more capacity. Especially more capacity than what the Q400 has to offer.

The right-sizing strategy for Wideroe has been a big part of our organisation for decades. We were both approached by Bombardier and Mitsubishi. There were many bidders. But we were fascinated by the possibility to further develop the right-sizing strategy we like. And Embraer offers just that.

There is fierce competition in Northern Europe. We need to stay under the radar, and with this kind of plane, we can do so. To us as an airline, it’s extremely important that we don’t train our crew in too many different aircraft types. Embraer allows us to train our pilots and have them capable of flying different variants.”

In addition, Nielsen gave details about the configuration of his first E190-E2:

“Our E190-E2 will be configured with 114 seats. 29″ pitch and 2-degree recline. It’s all about finding the perfect balance to fitting the most quantity of people, comfortably. The 2-2 configuration of the E190-E2 is a big selling point for Wideroe.

Also, the enlarged overhead bins are important for our customers. Each plane will come with tablet holders in every seat, separate power outlets, and they come prepared to fit high-speed internet connectivity.

We are waiting for Panasonic’s new technology to fit the aircraft with in-flight WiFi. We need strong-enough internet to allow our customers to stream Netflix.

Some of the sectors we are currently flying are not suitable for the Q400. The longest route takes about 2.5 hours on that plane. The E2 will allow us to further develop those routes by increasing capacity and dropping the flying time to under 2 hours in average.”

Moreover, commenting on the on-time scheduling of the delivery, he continued: “We are putting this plane into service exactly on the day we promised we would. This is a big accomplishment from Embraer and Wideroe. We are very proud of this. Wideroe has three E190-E2s on order. The first will be delivered tomorrow.”

He also hinted at some potential extra additional orders for the E2 program:

“If we can find a good position in the market, I’m sure that we will move forward with options in the future. The E175-E2 suits perfectly to our needs in the future.

We chose the E2 family over the CSeries because the CS100 is a large plane. It’s not fit for our market.

The E2 family allows us to place the right size plane in specific markets. The E2 performs better than expected, and we see that it also performs better than the CSeries.”

Currently, Widerøe carries three million passengers per year, according to statistics from 2017.

June 2017

All-in-all, Embraer looks to have secured a customer not just in the short-term, but in the long-term.

They seem to be very impressed by the E2 family and even with the mentioning of potential further orders, it cements their relationship with the manufacturer.

For connectivity across Norway, Wideroe seems to have made the right choice, and it was demonstrated in this briefing why.

Tomorrow, the airline will take delivery of its first E190-E2. Stay tuned for our live coverage.