Ukrainian carrier AeroSvit has acquired one of the two Antonov An-148s built four years ago for the twinjet's flight-test programme and will be the first airline to put the 70-seater into commercial operations. The twinjet is due to enter service on domestic routes in April.
Antonov received certification for the type in 2007, but has not launched serial production. AeroSvit had agreed to take 10 of the type following its roll-out.
The airline, which is subleasing the An-148 from state-owned company Lizingtechtrans, envisages using the An-148 for cross-border flights after settling legal and technical issues. "We badly need regional aircraft with such capacity. Our 737s could accommodate 100-170 passengers, but don't fill up on regional routes."
Since its inception in 1994, AeroSvit has been operating an all-Boeing mainline fleet. It has three 767s and 14 leased 737s.
Gaidash says that deploying the An-148 on scheduled services may involve additional costs and financial risks and the carrier is calling for government backing.