UAC To Exit Superjet 100, Investors Eye UAE Production Plant

 - February 28, 2023, 3:57 PM
A Superjet 100 operated by Russian airline IrAero takes off from Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg. (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons (BY-SA) by Anna Zvereva)

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) will sell its entire 49 percent stake in Venice, Italy-based SuperJet International (SJI) to the UAE’s Mark AB Capital Investments as part of an agreement that will result in UAC exiting the Superjet 100 program. The deal will see the Russian conglomerate transfer design and production authority to SJI in Venice while SJI establishes a new production plant in Al Ain in the UAE.  

Following receipt of Russian and Italian government authorizations to unfreeze SJI’s shares and assets, Mark AB Capital will own 49 percent of the company while Studio Guidotti International retains its 41 percent stake and Leonardo its 10 percent share.

The entry of the new shareholder and the unfreezing of SJI's shares and assets represent “mandatory prerequisites” to implement a re-launch plan devised by SJI and Mark Capital. The partners plan to commit investments of €190 million ($201 million), €110 million of which will go to the Venice site, which will retain responsibility for marketing and sales activities, installation of aircraft options, pilot and crew training, final flight tests, deliveries, and customer support.

The investment will allow for the development of new aircraft configurations, the construction of the new SJI branch in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the continuous development of the aircraft to address market competition.

“This agreement has a great value for our company, as the interruption of industrial and commercial relations with UAC will allow the company to no longer be burdened by the limitations resulting from the sanctioning regulations set by the European Union,” said SuperJet International CEO Camillo Perfido. “SJI will once again demonstrate the excellent technical skills of its employees, who have managed to face a difficult period with integrity and a sense of responsibility".

To support both industrial and commercial activities, the new corporate organization provides for a progressive increase in the workforce to 800 employees, split roughly equally between Venice and Al Ain. Venice’s workforce has declined from 250 at its peak to 110 people due at first to the Covid pandemic but now mainly to the effect of the sanctions.

SJI forecasts sales of 240 aircraft “at a minimum” spread across passenger, business jet, and cargo versions, most of which would go to the UAE and Indian markets.

The Venice headquarters will manage the program’s direction and carry responsibility for maintaining ENAC and EASA certifications. It will become both the Design Organization Authority (DOA) for the type certification of the aircraft, giving it the capability to carry out the development of new aircraft configurations (business jet and cargo), and the Production Organization Authority (POA), giving it complete control of the supply chain.

Plans for the new branch at Al Ain International Airport could represent an important opportunity for the UAE, whose nascent aeronautical industry remains in an immature stage. “Therefore, in an initial phase, it will be possible to make use of the available national aeronautical subcontractor base, with particular reference to the production of engine parts and aerostructures, as well as engineering support for the nascent UAE aeronautical industry,” concluded SJI.