Most likely not. There's probably not even a long-term market for 50-seat jets in most instances. The economics of RJs have just gone into the tank with the spike in fuel prices. The planes already had horrific economics to begin with, but it was more bearable with $30/barrel oil. Now, at $70/barrel, the money just isn't there. Originally, when the RJs were first gaining popularity in the 1990s, airlines were willing to overlook their dramatically higher unit operating costs versus regionals because of the anticipated increasing unit revenues because passengers would book away from props and towards airlines offering RJs.
Unfortunately, however, the novetly soon wore off, especially as regionals in the U.S. like Eagle, Continental Express, ASA, SkyWest, etc., piled on tons of RJs in the late 1990s, and stuffed them into many markets that already had mainline flights. Not to mention that, especially following 9/11, competition was so great that price once again became the main factor -- the benefit of flying an RJ
became meaningless as everyone had them and fares were plummeting.
This was particularly detrimental to the 37-seat EMB-135 because these planes were spreading relatively similar operating costs to its larger 44-seat and 50-seat cousins over a 37-seat configuration.
So, long story short, the 37-seat EMB-135s just don't really have to much of a future long-term because they have incredibly high costs and a tiny capacity to cover it with.
|Quoting Cubsrule (Thread starter):|
Or alternatively, is the 135 just another niche product for those that operate lots of 140s and 145s?
Indeed. The plane was designed as a replacement as the SAAB 340 and Bombardier Q200, with 34 and 37 seats respectively. The problem, of coures, with this market niche is that both the SAAB 340B and Q200 have much, much lower unit costs than the EMB135 and with the upgrades Bombardier has made to its Q200, also have similar performance characteristics in markets under 500 miles, which constitues many, if not most, of the markets that the under-40-seat aircraft category serves.
They did shrink the 50-seat CRJ to a 44-seat CRJ to match Embraer's EMB140 and get around U.S. majors' mainline pilot scope clauses. If you're talking about a 37-seat shrink, the answer is definitely no. There wasn't much of a market for it then, and there certainly isn't now.
Maybe, but they certainly would be stupid to buy now.