London City Hub to Get Russian Superjet as CSeries Falls Short

  • CityJet orders 15 Sukhoi-built aircraft, with 10 options
  • New planes will replace out-of-production BAE Avro model

Passengers at London City airport will be traveling on a fleet of Russian Superjet aircraft by 2017 as the terminal’s biggest operator becomes the first European customer for the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. model.

CityJet Ltd. will take 15 Superjet 100s on 12-year leases after choosing the plane ahead of the Bombardier Inc. CSeries and Embraer SA E-Jet, Chief Operating Officer Cathal O’Connell said in an interview. Dublin-based CityJet, which is replacing its BAE Systems Plc Avro planes, has options on a further 10 Sukhois.

London City passengers include a high proportion of business travelers who will be new to the Russian plane, whose order backlog has been reliant on ex-Soviet states and Mexico’s Interjet. O’Connell said he’s confident that fliers at the airport will take to the Superjet’s interior and five-abreast layout.

“It’s an excellent aircraft,” O’Connell said. He said the Superjet had the edge on the CSeries because of the certainty over deliveries starting next year, together with a 98-seat layout that was deemed better suited to London City’s route network than the Bombardier plane, which has an extra 10 berths.

Airbus Talks

Bombardier and Airbus Group SE said last week that they had held talks on a business collaboration widely interpreted as concerning the CSeries, which has been a focus for investor concern because of the scant interest shown by airlines and the jet’s strain on the Canadian company’s finances.

The Superjet is produced by United Aircraft Corp.’s Sukhoi and marketed with the Alenia Aermacchi arm of Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA. CityJet is taking the planes after the airline was sold by Air France-KLM Group to Intro Aviation GmbH of Germany in 2014.

The CityJet aircraft are worth $1 billion at list price, including options and support, according to the airline, which said the lessor will be named once final contracts are signed.

SAS Deal

CityJet will get four Superjets next year, which will initially be used for charter flights away from London City, followed by 11 in 2017, when the model will be introduced at the airport once it is cleared to fly there, it said. The four-engine Avro aircraft that are being retired have been the workhorse planes through the carrier’s 20-year history.

CityJet is already adding eight new Bombardier90-seat CRJ900 jets to be flown on behalf of SAS Group following an agreement last month. The planes will replace Boeing Co. 717s that had been operated in-house by the Scandinavian Airlines parent’s Blue1 arm.

London City is still likely to host CSeries planes, with Deutsche Lufthansa AG ordering a batch of 30 in 2009 for its Swiss unit, which plans to use them there. Lufthansa delivered a blow for the CSeries program in March when opting to move 16 Embraer jets to its Austrian arm rather than strike a follow-on deal with Bombardier.

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