Norwegian regional carrier Widerøe is likely to expand its new fleet of Embraer E2 regional jets with a mix of models, the airline’s CEO said April 12. Widerøe is lead customer for the first model in the three-aircraft range, the E190 E2.

Speaking to ATW on the final leg of the aircraft’s delivery flight from Brazil to Bergen, Norway, CEO Stein Nilsen said the airline intends to take up its 12 options as well as the three firmly ordered aircraft. However, no timeframe for taking up the options has been finalized.

“I think the most likely scenario is a combination of E175 E2s and the E190 E2,” Nilsen said. “It’s all about right-sizing; it’s a key issue for us.”

The smaller E175 E2 is scheduled for first deliveries in 2021.

“Widerøe’s first three E190 E2s will expand the fleet”—which currently consists of around 40 Bombardier Q series turboprops of various models—“but I think the next step will be to consider optimizing the fleet between the E190 E2 and the Q400.”

The airline will use the first three E190 E2s to expand its route network out of Norway. At present, its sole scheduled international service is across the North Sea to Aberdeen, northeast Scotland, but the Brazilian jets will be used to open longer routes to Germany’s Hamburg and Munich, as well as to London Stansted.

Additionally, the jets will be used to service the company’s increasing number of wet lease and charter services.

The airline’s range means that, from Norway, it can fly as far afield a southern Spain and Greece; indeed, this summer will see it carrying tourists on charter flights from Norway to Antalya, Turkey, a leg of more than four hours.

The aircraft, in a single-class 114-seat configuration, has a seat pitch of 29 in. Asked if this was sufficient for such lengthy sectors, Nilsen said that he believed the combination of new-generation slim seats and moving the seatback document pocket higher up on the seat would give the equivalent of 30 in. or even 30.5 in. pitch. The aircraft’s 2+2 layout would also be an advantage, he said, as there was no unpopular middle seat.

One reason for Widerøe going up in aircraft size compared to the 70-plus seats of the Q400, is the increasing level of aviation taxes in Norway. Using the larger aircraft means that the costs are spread over a larger number of passengers.

The airline is also open to the thought of increasing its current level of wet lease services for other airlines. The new Embraers’ duties will include being used on behalf of Finnair on routes between Helsinki, Bergen and Tromsø. “We’re open to flying under Widerøe colors [for other airlines] or on a ‘white label’ basis,” Nilsen said.

Alan Dron