Gol, Brazil’s biggest airline, is considering small, single-aisle jet models from Boeing Co. and Embraer SA valued at as much as $1.7 billion to replace older aircraft, people familiar with the matter said.
The 20 planes probably would be taken on leases, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. Gol, formally known as Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, may make a decision by the end of the first quarter, the person said.
The choice is between Boeing’s updated 737 Max 7 and the biggest planes in Embraer’s updated E2 jet family, three of the people said. Embraer, the Brazilian planemaker best known for its regional aircraft, is targeting the new E195-E2 for service on airlines’ main jet routes. The Boeing and Embraer planes would each seat about 130 to 140 passengers.
For Chicago-based Boeing, a deal with Gol would be a boost for the Max 7, which has struggled as airlines gravitate to larger, more-efficient narrow-body models. This would be the first Max 7 sale garnered by Boeing in more than a year and only the third that planemaker has landed for the smallest of its revamped 737s.
Gol now has an all-Boeing fleet, so an Embraer win would be a domestic triumph because only one of Brazil’s four airlines flies its planes.
Marc Birtel, a Boeing spokesman, declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing customers. Sao Paulo-based Gol declined by e-mail to comment on fleet acquisitions, as did Sao Jose dos Campos-based Embraer.
Gol is seeking planes in the 140-seat range to replace some of its 737-700s. The airline would prefer to keep a single-manufacturer fleet, Chief Financial Officer Edmar Lopes said in a Sept. 7 interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “But we will evaluate,” Lopes said.
An order for 20 Max 7s would run about $1.7 billion at list prices, compared with about $1.2 billion for the Embraer jet, before the discounts typically offered by manufacturers. Gol already is set to take deliveries through the next decade of 60 of the larger 737 Max 8 with upgraded engines.
Embraer’s E-2 family has been outselling the smallest Boeing and Airbus Group NV (AIR) jets among buyers of single-aisle jets seat 150 or fewer people. Airbus’s A319neo and the Max 7 are considered pricier and heavier since they are designed to be stretched in variants that can carry more people and bags.
The Max 7 can fly 126 to 140 people and has a maximum takeoff weight of 159,500 pounds (72,300 kilograms), according to Boeing’s website. The E195-E2 can carry as many as 144 passengers and has a maximum takeoff weight of 129,411 pounds, Embraer Vice President Claudio Cammelier said in an interview earlier this year.
Boeing has 55 orders for the Max 7 from two customers, Southwest Airlines Co. and WestJet Airlines Ltd., out of 2,295 Max family orders tallied by the world’s largest planemaker. Max 7 deliveries are set to begin in 2019, the same year that Embraer expects to start delivering the E195 E2.