Embraer (EMB, São José dos Campos) is talking to Middle Eastern carriers regarding orders for jets which could be used on regional routes, manufacturer's CEO John Slattery told The National.

"I believe we’re at the point where those airlines could consider more cost-effective intra-regional feed for the wide-bodies, and we are essentially creating an origin and destination market for the region," Slattery told the major English-language newspaper in the UAE.

According to him, regional jets could help both flag carriers and low-cost carriers expand beyond trunk routes. Adding further frequencies or destinations cannot be profitable with aircraft such as A320neos or B737 MAXs, Slattery claimed.

"Yields are down about 10% over the last 24 months, and when we look at intra-Middle East traffic, which is today mainly served by larger narrow-body aircraft - 48% of those flights are travelling with less than 120 passengers, and 60% of regional markets are served with a less than daily service,” Slattery said.

So far all talks are at early or intermediate level, Embraer's CEO added. He hopes that the first EMB-190 E2 will receive certification within the next 80 days and be ready to enter into service in April 2018. The launch operator for the model will be Wideroe (WF, Bodø).

Slattery did not name any potential customers in the Middle East. Some of the regional carriers which operate Embraer jets include Royal Jordanian and EgyptAir Express. Major Middle Eastern airlines, including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, do not operate regional jets. No regional customer has ordered E2 generation Embraers yet.