Malev unlikely to solidify Superjet order by year-end

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A firming up by Hungarian carrier Malev of an order for 15 firm and 15 option Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft is unlikely to occur by the end of 2009.

Malev and Superjet unveiled the letter of intent covering up to 30 aircraft in June at the Paris Air Show.

Malev chief commercial officer Karim Makhlouf told ATI on 9 November after a ceremony marking Mexicana's official entry into the Oneworld Alliance that the carrier was still in discussions with SuperJet, and that it is unlikely a firm order would be finalised by the end of December.

"It's a pretty new aircraft," says Makhlouf. "We are taking our time in the discussions."

Malev next year seeks to enlarge its fleet of four used Bombardier Q400 turboprops with additional previously-operated aircraft of the type. Those additional aircraft are being placed into operation ahead of the planned delivery in 2012 of the first of four Q400s Malev has on order.

Makhlouf says Malev is pleased with the performance of the Q400s. The aircraft were selected as replacements for the carrier's Fokker 70 and CRJ200s. Makhlouf calls the Q400 an ideal aircraft with ideal seat costs for the European regional routes where Malev operates the aircraft. Some of those destinations from Malev's Budapest hub include Geneva, Skopje, Warsaw and Sarajevo.

Malev's board of directors in September began discussions over a three year business plan that entails fleet restructuring and cost cutting. At that time the board asked management to revise some its forecast and present a new plan at the next board meeting. Aeroflot finance chief Mikhail Poluboyarinov is a member of Malev's board.

Also in September carrier chief executive Martin Gauss predicted a loss for Malev this year, but expects a return to profitability in 2012.