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Bound to get much better: Kremlin upbeat on future of Superjet-100

Recently, concerns were raised over Mexican airline Interjet's plans to sell its SSJ-100s
Superjet-100 aircraft Marina Lystseva/TASS
Superjet-100 aircraft
© Marina Lystseva/TASS

MOSCOW, August 23. /TASS/. Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet-100 aircraft (SSJ-100) will get increasingly better as more such airliners will be built and put into operation, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

"Domestic airlines are using this aircraft more frequently. Aeroflot is the biggest operator of this jet," he stressed.

"As these planes increase in number, all their features will improve. That is clear," he said.

When asked if the plans by Interjet, a Mexican airline, to sell its SSJ-100s have become a serious blow to the reputation of the Russian aircraft building industry, Peskov replied: "We would not draw such conclusions."

Earlier on Friday, the Vedomosti newspaper reported citing sources that Interjet, the only foreign operator of the Russian aircraft, plans to sell its SSJ-100s. According to the publication, the Mexican airline is mulling selling off 21 or 14 planes, or "as many as it can." The newspaper named the carrier's difficult financial circumstances as the reason for the sale.

Meanwhile, a source told TASS that Interjet plans to hold seven aircraft in its fleet and re-market 14 more.

A representative of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company (part of the United Aircraft Corporation) however rejected this report and told TASS that Interjet, which operates 22 of these Russian airliners, does not plan to get rid of these planes or return them to the manufacturer. Instead, SSJ-100 aircraft producer and French partners are looking for ways of restructuring Interjet debts, a source familiar with plans of the Mexican airline told TASS on Friday.

"At the same time, SCA and French partners are working out solutions for restructuring of Interjet debts to suppliers and improving performance of the fleet remaining with the airline," the source told TASS.

The Mexican airline is not going to abandon this type of airplanes and return them to the producer, SCA told TASS on Friday. Wet leasing of SSJ-100 is considered along with other options of fleet optimization, a source told TASS earlier.

The SSJ-100 is the first civilian aircraft designed in Russia. It is a regional jet, whose basic version has a flight range of 4,400 km and a seating capacity of 98 passengers. The model’s production started in 2011.

SSJ-100 crash landing

On May 5, an Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger plane (flight SU1492) with 73 passengers and five crewmembers onboard that was bound for Murmansk returned to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo 30 minutes after takeoff and caught fire during its crash landing. Forty-one people died, and ten more were rushed to the hospital because of the explosion. A criminal case was opened after the accident on charges of violating flight safety rules entailing the death of two or more people. Investigators are looking at several versions of the crash, including pilot incompetence, a technical malfunction and unfavorable weather conditions.