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Superjet Losing Domestic Support

Following the May 5 crash of an Aeroflot SSJ100, Yamal Airlines cancelled an aircraft order.

Exasperation with the Sukhoi Superjet appears to have spread to the aircraft’s home market in the weeks following the May 5 fatal crash landing of an Aeroflot SSJ100.

The Superjet’s handful of Western operators were already looking to phase out the aircraft, often citing a lack of spares and poor technical support from Sukhoi, and it seems that Russian carriers have experienced similar problems.

In the days following the crash, the Superjet’s second-biggest Russian operator, Yamal Airlines, cancelled plans to order another 10 of the aircraft, citing high servicing costs.

Aeroflot, the Superjet’s main operator with 50 aircraft, is scheduled to receive 10 SSJ100s in 2019.

However, the airline’s CEO has previously mused that the airline might not have ordered any of the aircraft if it were under private rather than state control.

Any additional MRO burden from the Superjet would grate, especially considering that Aeroflot’s maintenance expenses climbed by one-third in the first quarter--or 50% if one includes foreign exchange movements.

The disquiet has even spread to Russia’s parliament: "Who needs it?... It's not good for anything," said Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the upper house, in November.

"Aeroflot says we bought them and they sit on the ground. Nobody abroad is buying them... What have we achieved?" she added, according to Reuters.

If the forthcoming MC-21 proves a commercial success, it might be argued that the Superjet was a useful testbed for Russia’s re-entry into the commercial aircraft market. Unfortunately, it appears equally likely to have soured the appetite for Russian aircraft--abroad and even potentially at home.

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