ERA 2015: CityJet to take 15 SSJ100s on operating leases

CityJet has signed an agreement with Superjet International and as yet unnamed leasing company to take 15 Sukhoi Superjet 100s (SSJ100s) on operating lease, with the deal including options for a further 10 aircraft.

Nazaria Cauceglia, CEO of Superjet International, noted that with despatch reliability above 99%, customer satisfaction is being appreciated by the market more and more. He reported that the deal is not yet firm, but that the final contract won’t be difficult as much has been agreed already. “It’s already beyond what is usually defined as an LoI or an MoU,” he said.

“This will be the core fleet for us, replacing the Avro RJs,” declared Pat Byrne, executive chairman of CityJet, differentiating the acquisition from the recently-announced deal for CRJ900s to be operated on behalf of SAS. “This is the platform on which we’ll build the renaissance of the airline. I’m absolutely certain that we have made an incredibly good decision in selecting this aircraft.

“The engine was a major part of our decision-making in the end. It’s a special engine,” he added in reference to the Powerjet SaM 146 powerplant.

Byrne explained that the certification process for the aircraft to operate into its major base at London City Airport (LCY) is well under way and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. “But we will get the re-fleeting under way by taking four units next year for other parts of the network – out of Dublin and maybe Cork, as well as for some ACMI possibilities. Then we’ll go into LCY with the SSJ100 in 2017.”

Next year’s deliveries are scheduled as one in the February-March timeframe, then one in May-June, followed by two in July-August. “Then we expect to take one a month over 2017.”

The aircraft will have 98 seats with 32 inch pitch in a single class layout. Byrne does not expect to have WiFi or IFE fitted as the aircraft are the basic version with a range of 1,650 nm, “so it’s not really needed for the length of the flight,” he remarked. “If we were to move to the long-range (LR) version, which can fly 4,100 nm, we would re-visit the idea of WiFi or IFE, but at present it’s not justified on the standard range.”

Cauceglia added that he was very confident of achieving the LCY certification. “The modifications are mainly in the software and there is no penalty on range for current specification of the aircraft,” he explained. “Further ahead though, we aim to add winglets by 2018, to add to the range of the aircraft.”

CityJet has also signed a SuperCare agreement for support of the aircraft, the first manifestation of which will be having the airline’s crews in Venice for training by the end of this year.

Photo shows (l-r): Nazaria Cauceglia, CEO Superjet International; Pat Byrne, executive chairman, CityJet; and Marc Sorel, chairman and CEO, Powerjet.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/
Berlin, Germany

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