Russia suspends production of An-148s
The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has decided to close its production line of regional aircraft Antonov An-148s, starting January 1, 2018. At present, the UAC is making preparations for phasing out the aircraft’s assembly, according to the manufacturer’s report for 2015.
The report reads that the UAC is to “consider it expedient to discontinue the production of Antonov An-148 aircraft starting on January 1, 2018, and instruct its executive bodies to prepare an implementation plan for the closure of production, including actions aimed at minimizing costs and retaining production personnel.”
Before the closure of production, the UAC will meet outstanding obligations under its existing contracts. Thus, the Russian Defense Ministry is going to receive five aircraft of this type in 2016 (in total, the deal signed in May 2013 provided for delivery of 15 aircraft in the period from 2013 to 2017). The Antonov An-148 program was focused on military forces in the first place, as the use of this type of aircraft for commercial purposes was considered less promising.
One potential customer—Orenburg-based Orenburzhye Airlines—ultimately decided not to lease any An-148 aircraft, due to the fact that the Voronezh Aircraft Plant (VASO), from which Orenburzhye was to receive its An-148s, found it was unable to produce the aircraft in time, being loaded with work from the Ministry of Defense. In addition, Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot Group, withdrew all six An-148s from regular service. “As the An-148 aircraft cost-effectiveness is lower in comparison to other types operated in our fleet, when considering a combination of parameters including the cost per seat-kilometer, we are reducing our carrying capacity by suspending the operation of this type at first”, explained the airline’s representative. At present, the lessor Ilyushin Finance Company (IFC) is looking for carriers interested in this type of airliner.
Besides the Russian Defense Ministry, five An-148s are being operated by Angara Airlines, and two by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, according to data from the Federal Air Transport Agency (FATA). It is also known that Rossiya, a specialized air squadron, uses this type of aircraft, and so do some foreign carriers, in particular Air Koryo.
The Ukrainian state-owned company Antonov will continue to assemble An-148s.
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