In a year in which there were no new orders closed, the announcement that Congo Airways decided to switch its original order for E175 jets to the largest and most modern E190-E2 is still good news for Embraer. The new deal maintains the same number of aircraft – two firm orders and two purchase options – but raises its value from $195 million to $256 million.

Despite the current difficult circumstances, the fundamentals of our market have not changed; so we expect the momentum we’ve seen in the past to redevelop. I said in December that we may need to make an additional order for E2s due to the agility required to adapt to market changes – we have now reached that point,” said Desire Bantu, CEO of Congo Airways.

It’s great to welcome another airline to the E2 and the Embraer family of operators, especially in Africa where the demand for regional travel had been growing strongly before the current crisis. Africa has long been a market with low frequencies and long thin routes,” said Raul Villaron, Vice President Sales, Africa and Middle East, Embraer Commercial Aviation.

Congo Airways’ E190-E2s will be configured with a two-class layout – 84 seats in economy class and 12 seats in business class. Compared to the E175, the new jet will be able to carry 20 more passengers, all in economy class.

Congo Airways would receive two E175s in 2020 (Embraer)

The change in the agreement, however, postponed deliveries to Congo Airways. If the E175 was previously expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2020, now the E190-E2 will only reach the African continent in the second quarter of 2022, reflecting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on airline passenger demand.

Embraer remains without closing any new sales agreements for its commercial jets in 2020. In April, the joint venture negotiated with Boeing that would give rise to a new company responsible for the commercial aviation division ended up frustrated by the US manufacturer’s withdrawal.