Venezuela signed Tuesday a contract to buy six E-190 passenger jets from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, with an option to buy 14 more, at a meeting parallel to President Hugo Chavez's visit to Brasilia to take part in the summit of the Mercosur trade bloc.
The contract is worth $270 million and could reach $900 million if Venezuela goes through with the purchase of all 20 airliners, as was announced at the official ceremony attended by Chavez and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
The deal was signed by representatives of Embraer, the leading producer of airliners for regional flights, and by Venezuelan state airline Conviasa.
Embraer said that the first of the six jetliners will be delivered at the end of this year.
Conviasa plans to use the passenger planes to increase domestic and international routes due to the need to boost contacts with Central America and the Caribbean, according to the Venezuelan government.
The E-190 has a capacity for 100 passengers and belongs to a family of aircraft that the Brazilian company has sold to 60 airlines in 42 countries.
The deal was announced in January by Chavez but was only finalized now because it was conditional on a loan from Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development.
Progress in the negotiations allowed the contract to be signed during Chavez's visit to Brasilia, where he came to take part in an extraordinary summit to formalize Venezuela's full membership in Mercosur.
Also taking part in the summit were Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Uruguay's Jose Mujica, but Paraguay, the other member of the bloc, will not be represented.
Paraguay was suspended after lawmakers in Asuncion ousted President Fernando Lugo in what other Mercosur governments saw as a thinly disguised coup. EFE