Interjet comfortable with risks around SuperJet introduction

San Antonio
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Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet believes it is preparing well in partnership with the manufacturer of the Sukhoi SuperJet 100 for service introduction of the type in the coming months.

Interjet will take delivery of the first two of the 93-seat twinjets in May, says Alejandro Beristain Mercado, chief financial officer of the carrier, speaking at the Airline Business-organised Network USA conference in San Antonio. The airline has 20 of the type on order with 10 options.

The carrier is working closely with SuperJet International, the joint venture between Italy's Alenia Aermacchi and Russia's Sukhoi Holdings that is selling and supporting the SSJ100, to ensure as smooth as possible entry into service.

Interjet's Beristain acknowledges the risks around putting a new type into service but says the carrier is "comfortable" with the plans put in place to minimise disruption. "We spent one year evaluating this aircraft," he says.

Interjet will be the first western carrier to put the aircraft into operation. The purchase agreement covers technical support, servicing, training and spare parts, says Beristain.

"Every week people from SuperJet send us reports on dispatch reliability [of the in-service fleet of SSJ100s]," says Beristain. "Our target for dispatch reliability in 2013 is 96%, which is what the Russian operators are achieving."

The service introduction plan has seen Interjet engineers visit Armenian carrier Armavia, which is operating the SSJ100, to see the aircraft in service. "We have also sent our people for training in Italy and Russia," says Beristain. Several dozen of Interjet's local engineers are learning Russian to better communicate with Russian technicians, he adds.

The plan is to put the aircraft into service on domestic routes out of Mexico City "as soon as we receive it", says Beristain, with a utilisation target of 10 hours a day.

The support plan for the aircraft could also see SuperJet working with German maintenance giant Lufthansa Technik with the two discussing a plan to establish a spares operation in Miami, says Beristain.