Helvetic Airways Takes Delivery Of First E195-E2 From Embraer

The first Helvetic Airways E195-E2.
Credit: Helvetic Airways

Swiss regional carrier Helvetic Airways has taken delivery of the first of four PW1900G-powered E195-E2s, becoming the first operator worldwide to fly both the E190-E2 and the larger E195-E2 variant.

The latest arrival is part of a fleet renewal program at the Zurich-based wet-lease operator that began in October 2019 and is currently on schedule. Helvetic is investing a total of $750 million in its E2 fleet, becoming one of the major operators of the next-generation Embraer jets worldwide. 

“Our fleet renewal is on plan to be completed by the end of July,” Helvetic Airways CEO Tobias Pogorevc said in a virtual press conference June 23.

Helvetic believes that with its fleet of four Embraer E190-E1s, eight E190-E2s and soon-to-be four E195-E2s, it has the right aircraft to offer airlines in the aviation industry’s “new normal.” “We wanted more flexibility in terms of capacity—that’s why we also choose the E-195-E2,” Pogorevc said. 

Specialized in the ACMI (aircraft-crew-maintenance-insurance) leasing business, Helvetic has had a long-term wet-lease contract with Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) since 2007. However, the new E195-E2 are planned for Helvetic's own operations rather than the SWISS wet-lease contract.

“The structural changes in the demand for air travel that have emerged in recent months vindicate the strategic choices we made back in 2018,” Pogorevc said, emphasizing that his carrier has the optimal fleet mix in terms of capacity and sustainability.

“Helvetic became the sixth customer worldwide operating the E2 series, and the first worldwide operating both the E190-E2 and E195-E2,” Embraer Commercial Aviation President and CEO Arjan Meijer said. “With these aircraft, Helvetic Airways is building further on its reputation as one of the most environmentally committed airlines in Europe.” 

Meijer noted that many older, larger aircraft have exited fleets from airlines around the globe. “Now it is the right time for the E2. Helvetic is ahead of the course," he said. 

Compared with the previous generation of Embraer E195s, the E2 has a reduced fuel consumption of 25% per seat, saving almost 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions per aircraft per year. The noise footprint is 65% smaller.

Pogorevc told Aviation Daily recently that the carrier continues to operate several E1s. "The E190-E2 is an ultra-modern aircraft. It is performing well, but you never know how a new airplane works in the first 12 months," he said, adding that the E190-E1 is able to cover any ground time if necessary. 

The largest aircraft in the Embraer E-Jet E2 family, the E195-E2 can carry 134 passengers—24 more than the smaller E190-E2. With its range of 4,815 km (2,600 nm), the new flagship of the Helvetic fleet can serve a wide number of destinations within Europe and beyond. 

The current crisis has accelerated a regionalization of air transport and a downsizing of aircraft. “Right-sizing is now the rule," Pogorevc said. "With the E2, regionalization is possible—Basel-Dakar or Zurich-Dubai is no dream anymore." 

Pogorevc told Aviation Daily recently that Helvetic is in talks with several airlines to support them for the ramp-up phase when demand after the pandemic returns. "Sure, all airlines have too many aircraft and there is a lot of overcapacity. But at the end, mathematics and low emissions will count," Pogorevc said at the time.

Helvetic's first E195-E2 commercial flight is on July 10 from Basel to the Greek island of Santorini.

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…