UTair confident of securing A321 clearance

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Russian carrier UTair is confident that it will be granted authority to operate the Airbus A321, after formally receiving the first of a batch of 20 on order.

UTair ordered the A321s in July last year but has faced resistance from Russian federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia, which has expressed concern over the airline's ability to handle introduction of multiple aircraft types.

The airline's first A321 - serial number 5681, powered by CFM International CFM56 engines - was delivered during a ceremony at Airbus's Hamburg plant.

UTair admits it "hasn't got permission" to operate the type from Rosaviatsia but says: "We have the documents which we have sent to authorities."

The airline believes that it will overcome any regulatory matters and receive clearance within weeks. "We need time," it says. "We think we'll get permission, because this is a really big contract."

UTair general director Andrei Martirosov says the Airbus deal illustrates the carrier's "firm commitment" to strengthen its position among the main Russian airlines, and enable it to offer passengers a "high level of aviation safety and quality".

Rosaviatsia's latest disclosure of air operator's certificates does not include the A321 under UTair's entry. The aircraft types include 21 ATR turboprops, 49 Boeing 737s, a dozen 757s and 767s, and 11 Bombardier CRJs.

UTair's Russian mainline division is also listed as having several helicopter types as well as Soviet-era jets including the Tupolev Tu-154 and Tu-134.

The company also has broader aviation operations and its overall fleet includes over 240 aircraft and more than 350 helicopters.

Although UTair is planning to withdraw some of its older aircraft, Rosaviatsia remains concerned as to whether the airline's safety management system can cope with the increasingly diverse fleet. UTair is also planning to bring in Sukhoi Superjet 100s next year.

The acquisition of the 220-seat A321 has been carried out through a financial lease with Vnesheconombank subsidiary VEB-Leasing.

VEB-Leasing says the involvement of European export-credit agencies enabled the aircraft to be purchased on "favourable terms".

While UTair publicity material for the A321 agreement shows the aircraft fitted with sharklet wing-tips, the first has regular wing fences installed. Deliveries of the A321s will continue to 2016.