Grozny-Avia switches focus from Superjet to A319

Moscow
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Russian carrier Grozny-Avia intends to acquire Airbus A319 narrowbodies, after backing down on plans to take two Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional airliners.

The airline began negotiating with Sukhoi in December but has not managed to agree terms on a financial arrangement for the deal, says director general Khasan Salgiriev.

He adds: “We decided to terminate talks and have already turned to alternative variants. Most likely, we’ll settle on leasing two A319s.”

Grozny-Avia had been looking to take Superjets valued at $32 million each on a 15-year lease under sovereign guarantees from the government of Chechnya, which owns the carrier. But Sukhoi wanted to peg lease payments to the dollar exchange rate given the large portion of imported components in the Superjet, says Salgiriev’s financial adviser Vladimir Burak.

“We could not accept this condition. For us, it would have been tantamount to operating aircraft at a loss,” he says.

Salgiriev sees fleet expansion as crucially important for Grozny-Avia because it needs to meet regulatory requirements demanding that scheduled carriers have at least eight aircraft in order to operate on mainline routes.

Grozny-Avia has six Yakovlev Yak-42s in service. Last year, it tentatively considered placing an order for eight Superjets including a VIP variant.