Swiss heavyweight Comlux has snubbed the industry’s big brands to become launch customer for the VIP version of Sukhoi’s Superjet 100 airliner – just four months after the variant was announced at the Paris air show.
The order for two Sukhoi Business Jets, plus two options, was unveiled today by SuperJet International, the joint venture between Alenia Aeronautica and the Russian manufacturer, which is responsible for marketing the jet outside the former Soviet Union and Asia.
The two aircraft will be delivered in 2014, three years after the first regional jet version entered service with Armenian airline Armavia. The jets will be completed at Comlux America, the fast-growing charter operator’s outfitting and maintenance division in Indianapolis, with auxiliary fuel tanks installed by Sukhoi.
Comlux president Richard Gaona said the company opted for the Sukhoi Business Jet because - other than considerably more expensive Airbus Corporate Jets or Boeing Business Jets – its five-abreast cabin offered the largest interior in the market.
“It gives customers a large-cabin option from London to New York or Moscow to Dubai at a lower price point than an Airbus or Boeing,” he said.
Comlux will heavily market the fly-by-wire jet in Moscow and Kazakhstan, two of its biggest business areas, and if it proves popular, “we may push the orders up to 10”, said Gaona.
Comlux is the biggest charter operator of large-cabin business jets in the world, with a Boeing 767, five A320-family ACJs, four Bombardier Global Express aircraft, three Global 5000s, three Challenger 605s and two Challenger 850s, as well as a Dassault Falcon 900LX. It has an Airbus ACJ319, two Global 6000s, two Global 7000s and three Embraer Legacy 650s on order or in completion.
SuperJet International chief executive Carlo Logli admitted his company was initially “skeptical” about prospects for a corporate variant of the Superjet. “But in the last two months there has been a considerable push. We have had so many requests from the market,” he said. He believes there is a market for 100 Sukhoi Business Jets over 20 years.
Gaona said he had no misgivings about being launch customer for the first-ever business jet made in Russia: “If it’s as good as Sukhoi’s fighters, it will be an excellent solution.”