Willis Signs for Superjets

 - September 30, 2010, 6:15 AM

Novato, Calif.-based Willis Lease Finance, a leading lessor of commercial jet engines, last month signaled its intention to enter the regional jet leasing business by signing an MOU with Superjet International covering the purchase of six Sukhoi Superjet 100s and options for four more. The agreement, valued at some $300 million if Willis exercises all its options, specifies 98-seat SSJ 100-95s, the first of which the parties have scheduled for delivery in September 2012.  
The contract marks the first commitment for Superjets involving a U.S.-based company.

“In addition to the strong potential we see for developing new regional markets throughout the world, we believe the transaction is a strategic one for us,” said Willis Lease president and CEO Charles Willis. “The international consortium of companies involved in the launch of this aircraft includes Powerjet, which is composed of NPO Saturn–the major Russian engine manufacturer–and [France’s] Snecma, whose [CFMI] engines make up a significant portion of our current portfolio.”

Sukhoi expects the Superjet to receive Russian certification in time for delivery of the first production examples to Aeroflot and Armenian flag carrier Armavia by year-end.