Russian national carrier Aeroflot is expected to order over 300 Russian-made aircraft, as part of a shift in fleet strategy from Western-built jets to indigenous aircraft.
Airline chief Sergei Aleksandrovsky says the airline’s “immediate priority” is to secure some 323 aircraft, comprising 73 Sukhoi Superjet 100s, 210 MC-21 narrowbodies, as well as 40 Tupolev Tu-214s.
He made these comments at an undated meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin released a transcript – in Russian – of the meeting on its website on 26 August.
While no timeline was given for an order confirmation or delivery, both Putin and Aleksandrovsky agree that “there has not been such an order” in the history of Russian aviation, according to the transcript.
Aleksandrovsky, meanwhile, says the “significant” order will also require “additional resources” from the airline, with at least 3,500 pilots to be hired, and an additional eight full-flight simulators. Putin then adds that the order is also a boost for the country’s aerospace sector.
Aeroflot has been rumoured to be eyeing a significant Russian aircraft order, as Western sanctions – relating to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – have effectively ended the airline’s ability to access support from Western airframers.
Reports as recent as June indicate the carrier was hoping to sign an order for over 300 jets with state-owned United Aircraft Corporation, in a deal potentially worth over $16 billion.
It follows a share offering in July, where it issued over 5 billion ordinary shares to investors, as part of efforts to raise capital.
Aeroflot was an operator of the SSJ100s, before handing them over to subsidiary Rossiya Airlines, which has over 70 examples in operation.
At the meeting, Aleksandrovsky notes domestic travel demand has remained healthy, despite the looming challenges of foreign sanctions.
The Aeroflot Group, which also comprises Rossiya and low-cost unit Pobeda Airlines, has increased flights between Moscow and St Petersburg from 31 times daily to 45, while flights to Sochi increased from 15 to 25 daily flights.
According to Aleksandrovsky, Pobeda is the group’s “most efficient” company, with load factors at around 95%. Mainline operator Aeroflot, meanwhile, reports load factors of about 91%.
Traffic figures for the quarter to 30 June showed Aeroflot’s international passenger traffic fell by 63% year on year. The group’s international traffic figure for the second quarter 2022 was 91% down on the pre-pandemic level of 2019.