Superjet International chief is confident more Latin American airlines will follow Interjet's lead in a region where the 100-seater is perfectly suited

Delivery of the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 to Mexico's Interjet early next year will represent a milestone in the aircraft's development. Not only will it mark the first delivery to a Latin American customer, but the first to any customer outside Russia and the former Soviet states.

As such, Nazario Cauceglia, Superjet International's chief executive, describes its delivery - scheduled for March - as "a unique chance to promote our product on the western market".

He says that "once the aircraft starts to operate successfully on the territory it will get a extremely high level of promotion".

Once the Superjet has wedged its foot in the doorway of Latin America, Cauceglia says other opportunities will follow. "We see this part of the world as very, very attractive. Their economy is growing faster than most other regions," he says.

Citing how Interjet will use the 20 Superjets it has on firm order, he says "this aircraft is certainly the most competitive on medium density routes" and as such the airline will be used both to serve current routes and to open new ones. He says that on medium density routes already operated by the airline, the Superjet can offer lower operating costs compared with Interjet's Airbus A320s.

Interjet will also use its 93-seat Superjet on "routes which cannot be considered as medium density, but along the year have significant density fluctuation so they will use our aircraft to manage the part of the year where the density is lower than the average", says Cauceglia.

The importance to Superjet International of its aircraft entering service with Interjet goes beyond Latin America and is demonstrated when Cauceglia says: "We consider the Interjet project one of our main priorities for the worldwide success of our product."

He says that the way in which the manufacturer can "overcome negative perceptions is to fully enter service as soon as possible in a Western market with a qualified customer" as it is doing with Interjet, which has already "scheduled intensive usage".

Service entry will also banish any lingering "scepticism" over what is sometimes still perceived as "a Russian product" according to Cauceglia who says, "we are convinced this product has characteristics which will be preferred to its direct and indirect competitors".

In addition to a basic size advantage over Airbus and Boeing narrowbody aircraft on lower density routes in the Latin American market, he says the Superjet possesses a price advantage over its competitors from Bombardier and Embraer.

Despite stating that he is "not in a position to declare any conclusion of the investigation" into the Superjet crash in Indonesia during a customer demonstration flight on 9 May, Cauceglia is confident that there will be no damage to the image of the programme and that it has not altered its marketing activities in Latin America. "The effect that we have suffered in our promotional activity due to the accident I can say honestly is really negligible," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News