Air Kiribati (IK, Tarawa) has taken delivery of its maiden E190-E2, VH-IKJ (msn 19020029), the Fiji Sun has reported.

The aircraft was accepted by Acting Chief Executive Danial Rochford but has yet to be ferried from Sao Jose dos Campos to Tarawa.

The I-Kiribati flag carrier is expecting a second E190-E2 - msn 19020036 - in April 2020. The state-owned airline has options with Embraer for a further two aircraft of the type.

The E2s will be operated on Air Kiribati's behalf by Pionair Australia (PH, Bankstown), an Australian passenger charter specialist which currently operates two BAe 146-200(QC)s, three BAe 146-200(QT)s, and one BAe 146-300(QT).

The E2s will be the first jet aircraft in Air Kiribati's fleet which, at present, consists of two DHC-6-300s, one Dash 8-300, and three Y12Es (which, the Ministry of Transport has said, are nearing the end of their respective service lives).

As part of its mandate to ensure territorial connectivity, Air Kiribati serves 17 settlements across the South Pacific archipelago from its Tarawa base with Funafuti, in Tuvalu, its only international destination.

However, the high cost of fuel has greatly affected its profitability, forcing Air Kiribati to rely heavily on government subsidisation.

In an effort to reduce the airline's reliance on the fiscus, the Ministry of Transport, Tourism, and State-Owned Enterprises, in its 2020-23 development plan, said Air Kiribati will adjust its business model and more proactively target the tourism sector. The arrival of the E2s will, therefore, allow the airline to serve cities such as Brisbane Int'l in Australia and Auckland Int'l in New Zealand thus bringing much-needed competition and variety of choice to the I-Kiribati international market which is currently dominated by Fiji Airways (FJ, Nadi), Nauru Airlines (ON, Nauru), and Solomons - Solomon Airlines (IE, Honiara).