Aeroflot is considering using medium-range Boeing 737s as a stopgap capacity if Sukhoi Civil Aircraft delays delivery of its Superjet 100 regional jets.

Based on a supply contract signed with the manufacturer in 2005, the airline – launch customer for the aircraft - intended to include Superjet 100s in its flight schedule for 2008-09.

But Sukhoi’s parent United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) yesterday admitted this schedule was unrealistic, given logistics problems and a further delay in the flight test programme.

“Unless these aircraft arrive as expected, we’ll need to rethink the schedule and seek alternative capacity,” says Aeroflot deputy director public affairs Lev Koshlyakov.

“One option is to use the 737s leased by our subsidiaries [Aeroflot-Nord and Aeroflot-Don]. The other is to extend the service life of Tupolev Tu-154Ms.”

Aeroflot-Nord and Aeroflot-Don operate eight and five 737-500s respectively while the carrier’s two dozen Tu-154Ms are slated for phase-out in line with the fleet renewal.      

Under the contract with Sukhoi for 30 Superjets, Aeroflot is due to receive the first aircraft in November, the next one in December and the remainder during 2009-10.

UAC president Alexei Fyodorov yesterday conceded the manufacturer was unlikely to meet this schedule. “We’re working intensively but this delivery schedule is extremely demanding and, in all probability, we’ll have to move it forward,” says Fyodorov.

He believes that the delay would not incur substantial penalty payments to Aeroflot because they kick in if the delay exceeds six months and Sukhoi is striving to meet that deadline.

A spokesman for the company says it is fitting out three test aircraft at its factory KnAAPO to complement the one which is ready for trial flights. “We’re determined to fulfill our obligations to the launch customer as stipulated by the contract,” he adds.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news