KLM in preliminary deal for 15 Embraer E195-E2 planes

(This June 19 story corrects aircraft capacity to “120-146” seats from “120”; corrects first delivery to 2021 from “March”; adds KLM seat layout.)

FILE PHOTO: People walk past An Embraer E195-E2 on static display, at the eve of the opening of the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 16 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) - Brazilian planemaker Embraer landed the first major European customer for its newly certified E195-E2 passenger jet on Wednesday as Dutch KLM signed a letter of intent for 15 of the upgraded aircraft and options for another 20.

A shake-up among regional jet makers vied for attention at the Paris Airshow as Embraer lined up against the Canadian A220, recently absorbed by Europe’s Airbus, and Japan’s Mitsubishi sought to make a splash with its own rebranded Spacejet.

Embraer, whose commercial aircraft business is in the process of being acquired by Boeing, said first deliveries of the E195-E2 jets to KLM would begin in 2021.

KLM plans to use them at its Cityhopper unit following the deal, worth $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion) at list prices.

The 120-146 seat plane has more capacity and newer engines than its predecessor model, but has been outsold by the A220-300 which notched up further orders at the air show. KLM said it would use a layout of 132-136 seats.

Boeing and Embraer are not yet able to co-operate in the market as their tie-up awaits final approval, but Boeing is expected to offer package deals of E2 and its 737 MAX just as Airbus is now able to group together the A220 and its own A320.

“The Boeing commercial jv will unquestionably have an impact on our ability to sell that aircraft around the world,” John Slattery, CEO of the Boeing joint-venture in Brazil, told Reuters in a recent interview.

Despite speculation the E2’s name could change, that has not been decided, Slattery said. “The analogue of success is what helps us sell more airplanes and that ... means more jobs.”

KLM Cityhopper said the jets could allow it to offer more connections to southern Europe.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp said earlier on Wednesday it had signed a preliminary deal to sell 15 newly redesigned Spacejet M100 aircraft to an unnamed North American airline.

The Spacejet M100 is a new and rebranded version of the delayed MRJ70, designed to carry 65 to 88 people and to be more competitive in the dominant U.S. market for regional jets.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans