Belgium charter carrier VLM Airlines, a subsidiary of Air France-KLM, is set to launch scheduled regional services with the long range version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in 2015.
The airline has signed a letter of intent with the OEM and Russian lessor Ilyushin Finance for two SSJ100s to enter service in April 2015 and operate on a 12-year lease.
The letter also includes options for a further two aircraft.
Currently VLM operates a fleet of Fokker 50s on charter routes and wet lease, the new deal would see VLM become the first European operator of the SSJ100LR.
News of the agreement came as Sukhoi’s vice-president Igor Sirtsov confirmed that the airframer had its sights set on entering the Chinese market. “[China] will need about 1,000 new medium-haul aircraft over the next 10–15 years. We are going to compete for 30 per cent of this volume,” Sirtsov told Euronews.