The boss of the Superjet 100’s only Western operator is flying in to FIDAE to help persuade airline industry colleagues of the Russian twinjet’s merits – with the company behind the type hinting at “some important deals” in the region.
Jose Luis Garza, chief executive of Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet, will join Nazario Cauceglia, his counterpart at Venice-based Superjet International, at a press conference on Wednesday to talk about the airline’s experience with the six Superjets it has in service so far.
Last year Interjet became the Western launch customer for the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft-built type, and it is due to take delivery of 14 more by early 2015. Superjet International – the Sukhoi and Finmeccanica joint venture responsible for sales and support outside Russia and Asia – is confident of firming another 10 options this year, from a deal announced at the Paris air show.
Cauceglia describes the Latin American market as having “huge potential” for the Superjet 100, and FIDAE as “one of our most important marketing events this year – comparable with Farnborough”. He adds: “It is a unique opportunity for us to show our product, and Interjet’s support for our promotional activity is invaluable.”
One of the messages which Garza and Cauceglia will be keen to get across at FIDAE is the service performance so far of the PowerJet SaM146-powered twinjet. “Its reliability is unexpected, at around 99% dispatch reliability,” says Cauceglia, adding: “Unexpected because ours is a new product. We are spending a lot of effort to support [Interjet’s] fleet to ensure they can operate successfully. We have a team of engineers in Mexico.”
Superjet International has not enjoyed the smoothest of relationships with Sukhoi – which Finmeccanica also teams up with as part of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) venture – but Cauceglia maintains fences are being mended and the two organisations are moving towards closer co-operation. “Today we are working as two shareholders to identify an organisational model that would increase co-operation between Superjet International and SCAC,” he says.
One of the priorities is to “remove barriers” between the two sales teams. SCAC itself is responsible for sales and support of the Superjet in the CIS and Asia, while Superjet International looks after the western hemisphere.
Although design studies for a stretch version – or more substantial modification – of the Superjet are being considered, SCAC has played down the likelihood of such a model being developed soon. However, Cauceglia says a range of variants will eventually be needed. “We cannot have the Superjet 100 on its own,” he says. “We need to build up a family like our competition. We are moving in that direction.”