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Aeroflot to replace Superjets with customised versions

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot is to replace its Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft with new, fully-customised variants after the airframer finishes building them to its original specifications.

During the past year, the airline has put four serially produced examples of the type into revenue service. Under the delivery schedule agreed with Sukhoi, it was to receive 10 Superjets in 2011.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft vice-president for customer relations Igor Syrtsov pointed to setbacks on the supply side which hindered its assembly plant, Komsomolsk-on-Amur's KnAAPO, from meeting output targets and customer specifications.

Aeroflot Superjet production, Superjet International

 © Superjet International

Assembly of the Sukhoi twinjet takes place in Komsomolsk

"Aeroflot has placed an order for the aircraft with a different set of amenities and cabin configuration. Regretfully, our suppliers were not ready to put up all the necessary equipment as specified," he said.

In particular, there is no individual air fan control system on the four Superjets used by Aeroflot, said Syrtsov. Likewise, they feature two lavatories and three kitchen areas rather than three and four respectively, as stipulated by the carrier.

"We've compromised on these things and supplied simplified interim versions [of the Superjet]," admitted Syrtsov. However, he indicated that Sukhoi had committed to deliver improved variants, taking full account of Aeroflot's specifications.

These Superjets will come as replacements, while those in operation with Aeroflot are to be returned to Sukhoi and offered on the secondary market following a thorough revamp, said Syrtsov. "We're already thinking of how to reconfigure these four aircraft. One of the [options] is to convert them into business jets."

Armenian flag-carrier Armavia, the first operator to take the Superjet, is looking to receive an enhanced example this year.

It wants to put its second Superjet into service in April. Syrtsov said this would be an improved version compared with the first serially built twinjet, which was delivered in April 2011.

"The following delivery was due several months ago, but they specially let us delay it until the beginning of high season to secure the desired cabin interior enhancements," he added.

Armavia also has options for two more Superjets. Speaking in Yerevan, director Norair Beluyan said the carrier hopes to increase passenger traffic by 8-10% this year, despite "market vagaries" which resulted in numbers falling to 700,000 in 2011, down from 800,000 in 2010.

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