Quick Take: Brazil's Wings Over Japan

When I called Brazilian jet maker Embraer (NYSE: ERJ  ) the best international stock for 2007, I said that global demand for its jets would help lift the shares toward the heavens. Man, it's nice to be right sometimes.

On Thursday, less than six months after Chinese carrier HNA purchased 100 jets, Embraer booked a deal with Japan Airlines for 10 E-170 regional jets with an option to buy five more. At list prices, the deal is worth roughly $290 million.

JAL's purchase continues a string of wins for Embraer, which in January reported that its backlog of committed orders had increased 11.3% to $14.8 billion -- the most in the company's history. But, impressive as that is, the momentum isn't what interests me.

This does: Only 42 of the planes in JAL's fleet of 274 are made by Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) subsidiary McDonnell-Douglas. And most of those are older planes with passenger loads that top out at around 160.

What's so interesting about that? The E-170, though capable of carrying just 78 passengers, can fly farther than the MD-81 and is within spitting distance of the range of the MD-90-30. Together, these models appear to make up the bulk of the fleet available for regional routes in Japan.

And that has me wondering: Is JAL toying with the idea of decommissioning its McDonnell-Douglas fleet in favor of something more modern? If so, the Brazilian invasion may have only just begun.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 2,237 out of more than 23,200 in our Motley Fool CAPS investor intelligence database, no longer flies frequently. But he still enjoys the occasional first-class vacation. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies in this article at the time of publication. His holdings can be found at his Fool profile. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is always on time.


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