Russian carrier Kuban Airlines has confirmed interest in acquiring a batch of Sukhoi Superjet 100s but is making it conditional on reaching a mutually acceptable agreement with the manufacturer over pricing.
In February the two sides signed a tentative deal, envisaging the sale of 12 Superjets. Kuban submitted specifications for them to Sukhoi but says it subsequently raised the price by $1.7 million per aircraft.
"As a result, the purchase agreement is not yet endorsed by our governing boards," says the carrier. "We're seeking alternative ways to fund the deal, including a suitable lease arrangement."
Kuban will discuss a proposed financial scheme with the state transport leasing company shortly, says general manager Sergei Mordvintsev.
He adds that the carrier intends not only to acquire Superjets but take part in setting up a technical support system for the type using its facilities.
A spokesman for Sukhoi says the airframer considers Kuban a prospective customer. "But our deal is still undergoing corporate approval procedure. There is a need for a fair amount of work on the financing side of it, including advance payments," he adds.
Mordvintsev indicates that acquiring Superjets would be in line with Kuban's fleet renewal programme and its particular focus on developing regional services.
"We believe they could replace the Yakovlev Yak-42s that we've just phased out entirely," he says. "However, that does not rule out our plans regarding foreign aircraft types."