Mexican airline Interjet is set to become the first Western operator of Sukhoi’s SuperJet SSJ100 during July. The first of 20 aircraft it has on order arrived from Russia in Interjet colors at last week’s Paris Air Show, before heading to the Venice, Italy headquarters of the airframer’s SuperJet International joint venture with Alenia Aermacchi. There it will undergo final preparations for delivery to Mexico, with a second SSJ100 due to follow just a few days behind it.
SuperJet International CEO Nazario Cauceglia told AIN that the first delivery to a Western customer is a key breakthrough for the Russian-made airliner. The first aircraft had been scheduled to reach Interjet late last year, but delays involving the cabin interior installation pushed that milestone to the right by about six months. Cauceglia emphasized, however, that the aircraft will be with the customer in time for the start of its busy season.
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft is currently building SSJ100s at a considerably slower rate than the three per month it had targeted for this stage in the program. But the Russian manufacturer has assured SuperJet International that it will honor its promise to deliver enough aircraft to Venice to allow the company to meet its commitment to deliver all the Interjet SSJ100s by the end of next year.
Separately, Sukhoi has also promised Aeroflot to replace its first 10 SSJ100s with what the manufacturer calls full-configuration airplanes, the first of which it delivered on May 31. Since the start of the year it had delivered only two others, one to Indonesia’s Sky Aviation and the other to Lao Central Airlines in Laos.
“Of course I share some concern,” said Cauceglia in response to questions about SCAC’s ability to meet its delivery obligations. “But the point is that we’ve got from SCAC and Sukhoi the assurance that Interjet has the priority today. Everybody knows how important it is to put the aircraft on the Western market successfully. This is a unique chance for all of us, and Sukhoi is as sensitive as we are about this.”
Interjet route planners have identified some 80 city pairs suitable for the airplane, many formerly served by Mexicana Click Fokker 100s and Boeing 717s and all within the 925-nm range the SSJ100 can manage from the hot-and-high international airport in Toluca, Mexico (8,466 ft msl). Because calculations showed the original-standard SSJ100 could fly only as far as 750 nm from Toluca, Sukhoi developed an extended-range variant using high-speed landing procedures and a modified landing-gear door designed to reduce drag. In addition to Toluca, Interjet plans to fly the airplanes from Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, as well as cities in the northwest and southwest of the country.