The Embraer E190-E2 prototype at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow. Photo: Wikipedia
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- CEO of Surinam Airways (SLM), Robbi Lachmising, told Luchtvaartnieuws
this week that a decision on SLM’s fleet renewal is almost finalized and the Embraer-E series is the top choice to replace its three aged Boeing 737-300s. On the mid-Atlantic route, the Dreamliner 787 or the Boeing 777 will replace the existing Airbus 340.
Lachmising did not reveal how many aircraft will be added to the fleet. SLM has been contemplating two to three.
The alternative plan is to upgrade to the Boeing 737-700. However, aviation expert, Tomas Chlumecky, recommends that the airline upgrade to more modern aircraft to improve its product and allow for future expansion. He recommends the newer Boeing 737-800 or Airbus 321 with a range to NYC and Toronto, which would give SLM the opportunity to expand its network to those cities at any time.
Both arguments have merits, the Embraer E-series, E170-195, seats 70 to 122 passengers, and by adding frequency to existing routes and expanding its network, SLM may be able to achieve its objectives. However, this is cutting back on passenger comfort, and maybe evidence of the lack of a bold and ambitious plan, meaning that SLM has settled for a modest plan.
Without a larger aircraft, or unless it uses the existing Airbus 340-300 in its fleet on the Georgetown/JFK route, SLM may not be serious about New York City. However, SLM may be talking to other companies to partner on the route.
SLM already has the rights from US authorities to ply the New York route via Port of Spain, Aruba, Georgetown, and Curacao.
SLM is using the logic that, to build the Paramaribo hub, it must add frequency to enable seamless connection across its network. The Surinamese carrier wants to add more frequency between its Paramaribo hub and most of its destinations like Guyana and French Guiana. Up to now, people cannot simply purchase one ticket from Georgetown to Amsterdam, Belem or Cayenne. Furthermore, SLM flights cannot be booked online from major online travel cities.
One interesting revelation that that came out of the interview is SLM’s plans to finally move towards long range twin-engine certification (ETOPS) on the Paramaribo/Amsterdam route. In the long run this will save SLM a lot of money by dropping its historic use of four-engine planes on the mid-Atlantic route. On the radar are the Boeing 777 and the Dreamliner 787. The state owned airline previously purchased a KLM Boeing 747-400 that was used for no more than five years, and ended up in the Arizona desert.
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer was in regional news last year after it agreed to pay more than $205 million to resolve alleged violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) as part of a global settlement following admitted bribe payments from its US-based subsidiary through third-party agents to foreign government officials in the Dominican Republic and other countries.
According to the company’s admissions, in 2008, Embraer paid $3.52 million to an influential government official in the Dominican Republic via a false agency agreement to secure a contract to sell the Dominican Air Force eight military aircraft for approximately $92 million.