Russian regional carrier Severstal Airlines, a subsidiary of steel and mining giant Severstal, is to replace its entire fleet of ageing Bombardier CRJ200s with Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100s (SSJ100s).
The Cherepovets-based airline has signed an 11 billion-ruble contract for six of the regional aircraft in a deal which, at current exchange rates, translates to a unit cost of US$29.5m per aircraft. The jets are being taken on a 12-year operating lease from the Ilyushin Finance Company (IFC), the lessor reveals.
The move is in line with the airline’s fleet renewal strategy through 2022, which is aimed at stimulating passenger traffic and tourism both to and from the Vologda region.
Delivery of the first three aircraft is expected before the end of this year, reveals parent company Severstal. Specifically, the first is scheduled to enter airline service in November. The new additions will allow the airline to “consider new destinations for the 2019 summer season,” says a statement.
Each aircraft will feature a convertible cabin, with two options – a single-class 100-seat full economy configuration, or an 85-seat economy section with an eight-seat business class layout.
The list of candidates for Severstal’s fleet renewal programme initially included the larger Bombardier CRJ700/900, the Embraer E-jet and the SSJ100.
“As we take delivery of the new modern aircraft, the current fleet will be phased out,” says Alexander Shevelev, Severstal’s general director. “We hope that our fleet renewal will enable us to stimulate traffic growth and will provide momentum for further development of the tourism infrastructure in the Vologda region,” he adds.
IFC explains that these SSJ100s are part of a contract it signed with manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show in the UK. As per that agreement, IFC purchases aircraft in order to lease them to operators in Russia and beyond.
Severstal Airlines, a subsidiary of Russian steel and mining giant Severstal, which is majority-owned and controlled by billionaire Alexey Mordashov, performs domestic and international scheduled and charter flights across Russia, the CIS countries and to Europe. It also owns and manages its base airport at Cherepovets.
The airline carried 240,900 passengers in 2017, up 4.7 per cent on 2016, aboard a fleet which currently consists of six 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200ERs, a 32-seat Yak-40 and a Challenger 300 business jet. The airline first indicated its interest in the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in 2015.
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