United Continental's (NYSE: UAL ) United Airlines needs a few more airplanes -- and it's buying them from Brazil.
On Monday, Embraer (NYSE: ERJ ) announced that it has signed a firm order agreement to sell UA 30 of its Embraer 175 regional jets, along with options to buy 40 more. At list prices, and assuming all options are exercised, the deal would be worth $2.9 billion to Embraer.
Announcing the deal, Embraer emphasized its long-standing relationship with the airline, which was Embraer's "launch customer" (the first airline to sign on the dotted line to buy its planes) for the ERJ 145 airliner back in 1996, and has been buying Embraer planes since the 1980s. (This was all pre-merger. At the time, UA was still known as Continental.)
United says it will fly the new planes under its United Express brand, and will configure them as 76-seaters offering a large first-class section, and larger overhead storage bins. The planes will replace older 50-seat aircraft -- and in addition to carrying more customers, will also be more fuel efficient.