Star Peru looks to add 146 freighter, evaluates An-148

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Star Peru is considering supplementing its fleet of BAe 146 passenger aircraft by acquiring a 146 quick change aircraft or freighter and potentially Antonov An-148s.

The Peruvian carrier has rapidly grown its fleet of 146s since taking its first of the type in 2009. Star Peru initially used the 146 to replace its previous fleet of Antonov An-24/26s and Boeing 737-200s but over the last year has taken additional 146s for expansion.

Last month Star Peru added its ninth 146 but Star Peru general manager Roman Kasianov says for the remainder of the year there are no plans to acquire additional passenger aircraft. He tells ATI that instead the carrier's 10th 146 "will probably be a cargo airplane".

Kasianov says Star Peru is currently evaluating both the 146 quick change and freighter, adding that the main factor in the decision will be price. Star Peru currently does not have any quick change aircraft or freighters but operates cargo charter flights using seat containers in its 146 passenger aircraft.

While Star Peru only recently completed its transition to 146s, Kasianov says the carrier is also starting to ponder new passenger aircraft to supplement and potentially replace its 146s. He says for now the An-148 is the only suitable aircraft that is in the same size category as the 146 and can access the small airfields in Star Peru's domestic network.

Of Star Peru's 15 domestic destinations, Kasianov says five are exclusive because they are too small to support the aircraft operated by its main competitors - Lan Peru, TACA and Peruvian Airlines. These three carriers operate a mix of Airbus A320 family aircraft, Boeing 737s and Embraer E-190s, all of which do not have the short field performance of the 146 or An-148.

Kasianov says if a proposal to establish an An-148 training and maintenance base in Venezuela comes to fruition, the aircraft will be particularly attractive to acquire for the Peruvian market. Kasianov says he is not concerned about potential support or reliability issues with the An-148 as Star Peru previously operated An-24s.

Kasianov also points out that he is familiar with the Ukrainian aircraft industry as he is Ukrainian and lived in the Ukraine before moving to Peru with his family when he was a teenager. He started Star Peru in 1996 with his father, Valentine Kasianov, who serves as the carrier's president. The two also own the company, with the father holding 67% and the son 33%.

Star Peru initially operated charter flights for oil companies using Antonovs. It began scheduled passenger flights in 2005 after acquiring 737-200s and has since quickly expanded its share of Peru's domestic market.

According to Peruvian DGAC data, Star Peru's domestic traffic grew 31% last year to 659,000 passengers, giving it 12% of the total market. These figures include both scheduled and charter operations.

Kasianov says about 30% of Star Peru's operation is now charters. The 146 gives the carrier an advantage in competing in the charter market because oil companies typically operate in remote areas that have airports with short or unimproved runways.