Interjet chief executive Jose Luis Garza calls the Sukhoi Superjet 100 a "money-making machine" despite continuing extra maintenance needs.

The PowerJet SaM146 engines on the SSJ100 require additional ground maintenance due to several service bulletins, he said on the sidelines of the ISTAT Latin America conference in Bogota on 16 November.

The work is more a "nuisance" than a serious operational concern, he says, adding that the engine manufacturer is providing on-going support, including spare engines, to Interjet.

The engine work on the SSJ100s is separate from a Russian airworthiness directive in December 2016 that temporarily grounded the airline's fleet until inspections of stabiliser attachment bands were completed.

"As we expected, there have been certain problems like any new type," says Garza on the Superjet. "We are satisfied. It is a money-making machine."

He adds that Interjet negotiated a "sweet deal" with the airframer for the SSJ100, with the capital cost of 10 aircraft roughly equal to the pre-delivery payment for one Airbus A320.

Interjet operates 16 SSJ100s with firm orders for another eight, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

The airline plans to shift the 93-seat aircraft away from its congested Mexico City base to develop its domestic network elsewhere in Mexico, says Garza. It hopes that this move will help improve operational dispatch reliability to 90% in 2018.

Interjet's fleet of operational SSJ100s, which does not include the one aircraft that is always out of service for maintenance or other work, is "close to 90%" currently, says Garza.

Long-term, the carrier aims for an operational dispatch reliability for the aircraft of around 95%, he says.

Stefano Marazzani, chief executive of the Venice-based marketing arm SuperJet International, speaking on the sidelines of the ALTA Leaders Forum says that Garza was likely referring to the availability, rather than the technical reliability, of the SSJ100. He adds that the dispatch reliability of the global fleet is around 99%.

Interjet debuted its first SSJ100 in September 2013, with Garza at the time saying the aircraft's "performance is far superior to any other new type entering service".

In addition to the Superjets, Interjet also operates 50 A320s and six Airbus A321s, Fleets Analyzer shows.

Updated with comments from SuperJet International chief Stefano Marazzani

Source: Cirium Dashboard