29 December, 2018

Thai Kom Airlines shows an interesting the Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 as the Russian planemaker looks like it will lose its only European customer next year

Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100                       Photo CityJet
Thai Kom Airlines Company has signed a letter of intent (LOI)  with the Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft for six Sukhoi Superjets SSJ100's. The LOI was signed at the presence of the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov on December 27th.

The deal, once confirmed, would see the aircraft configured with 100 seats and delivered to the carrier during 2019-20. The super efficient and comfortable aircraft would be used on the carriers local and regional routes. 

It is expected Thai Kom will confirm the order during the first two months of 2019 and would be good news for the Russian planemaker, who may be in the process of losing its sole European customer. 

The Irish CitJet had put in a large order for the SSJ100's - 15 firm orders with options on another 15 frames. However, the carrier only currently flies 6 of the type and has seen its business change over the recent times from a regional airline to more of a firm providing aircraft, crew maintenance and insurance on short-term leases, often termed wet-lease or an ACMI operate.

Brussels airlines currently wet-lease four of the type from CityJet but have decided to call a halt to the contract at the end of this winter period in 2019. The removal of that contract and the lack of available support and maintenance for the SSJ100's in Europe could spell the end of CityJet's operation of the aircraft.

Alexander Rubtsov, the head of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft confirmed the situation at a recent briefing, according to Russian Aviation Insider.  “We are in discussions with CityJet, but I have not ruled out [the possibility] that we may be ending the story of our relationship with the carrier,” Rubtsov is reported to have said, adding that the final decision is likely to come during the first quarter of next year.

CityJet took delivery of its first SuperJet SSJ100 in 2016 and has adopted a 98-seat configuration laid out five abreast in a generous 32” seat pitch combining a wider seat and cabin height of over two metres for greater passenger comfort. While no decisions has yet been taken, CityJet is still offering up the SSJ100 aircraft on an ACMI basis passed March 2019.