Union lobbies for A220 to replace Air France HOP E-Jets

French airline is banned from operating aircraft with more than 110 seats, but SNPL defends relaxing scope clause to allow order for Airbus jet instead of Embraer’s E190-E2

Embraer could see a current customer of its E-Jets choose the rival Airbus A220 if it depends on the French airline pilots union.

The regional airline Air France HOP (formerly HOP!), which belongs to Air France, intends to renew its fleet, which today comprises 19 E170s and 13 E190s, in addition to ten CRJ-1000s, which are about to be retired.

However, the carrier cannot operate aircraft with more than 110 seats, a sort of French scope clause agreed with its parent company about 20 years ago.

The SNPL, the entity that represents its pilots, sees the issue differently, as revealed by the newspaper Les Echos. For the union, the clause must be revised to allow HOP to operate jets with up to 135 seats, which would allow it to fly the A220-100, the smallest version of the Airbus aircraft.

In March, Les Echos reported that Air France and Embraer were negotiating an agreement to acquire 35 to 50 new-generation E190-E2 jets to renew HOP’s fleet.

“Choosing the E190-E2 would be a strategic mistake,” an anonymous source at Les Echos said this week. “It’s a very small and very heavy plane. Furthermore, Embraer has difficulties selling it,” he added.

Air France first A220-300 (Airbus)

Synergy with Air France

Air France is seeking to strike a deal with the SNPL to increase the productivity of HOP employees in exchange for fleet renewal, but the union has been postponing any agreement, in hopes of changing the scope clause, the paper says.

Proponents of the A220 point out that its choice would increase synergies with Air France, which recently introduced the Airbus aircraft to its fleet. It would also make it easier for HOP pilots to switch to their parent company, argues Les Echos.

HOP was created in 2013 following the merger of Brit Air, Régional and Airlinar, but has seen its fleet reduced from nearly 100 aircraft to just 32 jets.

Three years ago, Air France committed to keeping the regional active until March 2026. The flag carrier told the newspaper that there is no discussion about changing the scope clause.

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