Russia Firms Seek Indigenous Bizjets as Sanctions Bite

 - March 14, 2023, 10:17 AM
Vnukovo Andrei Tupolev International Airport, southwest of Moscow, Russia, handles international flights by private aircraft. (Photo: AIN)

Leading Russian state corporations are significantly increasing their purchases of indigenous business jets, as the Russian economy slowly improves. In fact, the country's largest transmission grid company, Federal Grid Co. (FGC), has bought a new-production SSJ-100 in business configuration for the equivalent of $63 million, with $10 million allocated for VIP cabin outfitting. The company already owns a Bombardier Global, but Western sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine war make servicing of this aircraft nearly impossible.

Before imposition of Western sanctions, Russian customers used about 500 business jets, while the number of business jets affiliated with Russian citizens were estimated at 600 to 800 units, according to the Russian Business Aviation Association. To date, say Russian analysts, about 150 to 200 aircraft have been transferred to Russian registration, which has opened up the possibility for them to fly to "non-European countries." Last year, customers showed an interest in Russian VIP aircraft, but there are no such jets for resale in Russia at present.

Even so, potential SSJ-100 customers are also concerned about possible difficulties involved with servicing the Russian-French PowerJet SaM-146 engines.

In addition to FGC, large Russian companies that have business aircraft include Gazprom (with 10 SSJ-100s and 14 Dassault Falcons) and Severstal Air (four SSJ-100s and four regional Bombardier CRJ-200s), but more often top managers charter business jets. According to analysts, no serious market demand exists for SSJ-100s as replacements for foreign jets, since 80 percent of domestic aircraft consist of exclusive components and they are more difficult to maintain than Bombardier aircraft.

There was interest from Russian businesses for the re-equipment of dismantled Tu-214s, which were put up for sale by Ilyushin Finance. These plans were never implemented, however.