Asian carriers to benefit from new Superjet credit line

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Laotian carrier Lao Central Airlines and Indonesia's Sky Aviation will be the first airlines to benefit from a new credit facility being established to support Sukhoi Superjet sales.

Russian state bank VEB has opened a new credit line worth $2.5 billion for this purpose, according to United Aircraft president Mikhail Pogosyan, speaking during a briefing in Moscow.

The line is intended to promote sales to foreign airline customers in 2013-15 timeframe and, Pogosyan says, is large enough for 30 aircraft.

Lao Central is to take three Superjets and Sky Aviation will have 12. Authorities in both states have recently validated the twinjet's type certificate.

Pogosyan adds that aircraft for Sky Aviation will remain in possession of VEB's leasing arm, but notes this scheme is not universal and, in other cases, VEB might instead directly credit airlines willing to operate Superjets.

"We will use all available means and forms of financial support to promote Superjet sales," he adds.

Pogosyan also confirms VEB's decision to provide a separate $1 billion rescue package to Sukhoi's civil aircraft division, adding that the package is aimed at helping the loss-making airframer reduce a heavy debt burden.

Sukhoi sought the support as it fell behind on its expectations of handing over more than 20 Superjets in 2012. It delivered five in 2011 and, as of mid-December 2012, had delivered only seven to customers plus a green airframe, for Interjet, to Superjet International for cabin fit.

Pogosyan indicates that one Superjet will be delivered to Sky Aviation, and two more green aircraft will be handed to Superjet International this year.

The airframer has amended production plans to feature 25 Superjets in 2013, 42 in 2014 and 50 in 2015.

Pogosyan says the priority for 2013 is creation of a well-functioning after-sales support system, building on the experience gained from interaction with Aeroflot which has a 10-strong Superjet fleet.