ARMENIAN AIRLINE TO DROP SUPERJET 100
By Rachel Nielsen
The Moscow Times
Aug 7 2012
Armenian national airline Armavia, the first buyer of the Sukhoi
Superjet 100, says it wants to return the midrange aircraft to the
manufacturer because of technical problems.
United Aircraft Corporation’s Sukhoi Civilian Aircraft, however,
says the matter is a financial disagreement.
The dispute further complicates the sales of the Superjet, a regional
civilian jetliner, which has racked up safety incidentssince its
commercial launch in April 2011.
The most recent problem occurred last week, when a Superjet flown by
Aeroflot made an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport at the
end of a Kazan-Moscow flight after the cabin partly depressurized,
RBC Daily first reported Monday that Armavia wasn’t flying the first
Superjet that it had purchased. Armavia owner Mikhail Bagdasarov
confirmed that fact to Armenian news service ArmInfo, saying he didn’t
want the plane because it doesn’t comply with government standards.
The controversy comes four weeks after an Armavia spokeswoman told
Interfax that the airline wouldn’t buy a second Superjet 100 as
planned. Both the first and second planes are currently in the Moscow
region town of Zhukovsky, near Domodedovo Airport, RBC Daily said.
An Armavia spokeswoman in Yerevan said Tuesday that she couldn’t
provide immediate comment on the controversy.
A spokesman for Sukhoi Civilian Aircraft, Andrei Muravyov, said the
firm hadn’t officially received word from Armavia that the airline was
rejecting the first plane, which has been in service since April 2011.
He said by phone that Armavia didn’t like the contract conditions
offered to it, which included “a discount.”
Armavia hasn’t paid for the first plane in full, and it is “supposed
to accept” the delivery of the second this year, Muravyov said.
If Armavia does reject the planes, “it wouldn’t be pretty” for Sukhoi,
since the airline was the first Superjet buyer, Metropol transport
analyst Andrei Rozhkov said.
The perception among pilots is that the Superjet 100 hasn’t yet been
developed to the same level as foreign-made planes, Rozhkov said.
In May, there was a deadly crash of the plane in Indonesia that killed
all of the nearly 50 people onboard. Sukhoi was operating that flight
as a demonstration for potential buyers.