CityJet expects to firm SSJ options

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15 Oct 2016 13:05 Source
Victoria Moores moc.notnep|seroom.airotciv#moc.notnep|seroom.airotciv

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Irish regional airline CityJet is expecting to firm half of its 16 Sukhoi Superjet 100 options in 2018, after becoming the European launch operator of the type in June.

CityJet is leasing 15 SSJs and has options on an additional 16. The Dublin-based airline received the first of these in June, the second in July and a third aircraft will be delivered over the next two weeks. After this, CityJet will take deliveries every two months, taking it to eight aircraft by June 2017.

“We will certainly look at our options in 2018. It is impossible to say how many we will go for, but I am reasonably confident that it will be 50% of our 16 options in that [two-year] timeframe,” CityJet executive chairman Pat Byrne said, speaking at the European Regions Airline Association General Assembly in Madrid.

He added that the exact number firmed will depend on how quickly CityJet’s business develops, particularly in wet lease. “Generally we allow 12 months for delivery from the time that we exercise an option,” Byrne said.

The new aircraft are being brought in to replace CityJet’s 15 Avro Regional Jets (RJs), which will be phased out over the next two years. “We’d like to do it tomorrow. We don’t want too many types on our air operator’s certificate, so we’re anxious to phase out the Avros, even though they owe us nothing,” Byrne said.

Four months on from receiving its first SSJ, CityJet is satisfied with the aircraft’s performance. Byrne said the phase-in was “very cautious,” but the SSJ has performed a number of ad hoc charters and a 30-day wet-lease with Finnair.

“We flew a pretty tough schedule [with Finnair]. Although I sweated a lot, we managed to achieve 100% dispatch reliability on a pretty taxing schedule. That gave us a lot more confidence in the aircraft,” Byrne said.

“It’s performed very well, better than the book says. I am pleasantly surprised by the fuel burn; it’s delivered fantastic numbers. The aircraft is a joy to fly. Our pilots love it. Passenger reports have all been positive, with no negative reaction whatsoever. People are surprised when they get on board. They don’t regard it as a regional jet—they regard it as a true narrowbody.

“The engine is sweet. It really is a fantastic engine and we have had zero issues with the engine so far. It has performed remarkably well. The engine was one of our key criteria, it turned it for me.”

However, the entry into service has not been glitch-free. CityJet had to adapt to its first fly-by-wire aircraft and has suffered the glitches that come with operating new technologies.

“Of course we’ve had issues. You always do with a new aircraft type. Some of them have been our glitches—finger trouble with the new technology—and some of them have been down to the manufacturer, but the collaboration has been absolutely fabulous,” Byrne said.

The technical issues were “small, silly little things,” which were quickly resolved. Existing SSJ operator Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet has also been guiding CityJet on what the next problems might be and when they are likely to occur, based on its in-service experience.

“Sophisticated aircraft like this always get problems with avionics. None of them have been major, serious, structural, or mechanical; they’ve all been irritating little things, but the more we know about them, the more forewarned and anticipated they are,” Byrne said.

The CityJet CEO is confident the SSJ will become popular in Europe, becoming the “weapon of choice” for legacy carriers looking to either buy aircraft directly or source them on wet lease.

“This aircraft is going to be phenomenal for us. We believe it will definitely prove itself as the ideal wet-lease platform for legacy carriers in Europe. I think we will see quite a number flying in Europe. It really beats the socks off the competition. It’s lighter, more fuel efficient and has more passenger appeal.”

CityJet also operates eight Bombardier CRJ900s, with another four on order, which fly on contract for SAS Scandinavian Airlines.

(опубликовано: maverick-lab)

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