USA-based Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has delivered a factory-fresh new Airbus A321neo to S7 Airlines, Russia’s second biggest air carrier. The aircraft (tail number VQ-BDU) is powered by PW1133G-geared turbofan engines, is the first of a batch of four the lessor has committed to delivering to S7 before the end of this year, and has already entered commercial service. S7 became Russia’s first operator of A321neo.
“These four new ALC A321neo aircraft bring a new level of operating efficiency and competitiveness to S7’s fleet,” observes ALC’s Alex Khatibi, executive vice-president.
The largest member of the re-engined Airbus A320 family provides optimal capacity and range advantages for S7 Airlines, enabling it to better manage seat load factors on its medium-haul flights across Russia, as well as launching new flights to remote destinations abroad. Reiterating this, Vladimir Obyedkov, the airline’s chief executive, says the type “will enable us to increase capacity of long distance flights within Russia as well as offer our passengers new international routes.”
The Russian airline previously operated pre-used Boeing 767s, offering more capacity and range, but decided finally to partially replace them with the newest A321neos.
In total, S7 Airlines is expected to introduce up to 30 A320neo-family aircraft to its fleet, with a delivery schedule spread through to 2029. Other known lease agreements include one with SMBC Aviation Capital for six aircraft, and a deal for 16 with Ireland’s AerCap and China’s BOC Aviation, of which six have already been delivered and are already in commercial service. Meanwhile, the delays which have plagued A320neo customers worldwide, due to problems with the PW1100G powerplants, have affected S7 Airlines’ deliveries as well.
Another A321neo operator in the region is Kazakhstan’s Air Astana, which has two of the type, plus a smaller A320neo in its fleet. Peter Foster, the Kazakh carrier’s chief executive, told recently Russian Aviation Insider that his airline is working on expanding its existing order for 17 A320neo family aircraft to 23.
Elsewhere in the region, Uzbekistan Airways is set to become the third Airbus narrow-body neo customer when it takes delivery of two A320 neos in December.
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