Superjet celebrates its first anniversary of operations with Interjet. On September 18, 2013 the first SSJ100 entered into service with the Mexican airline.
Up to the anniversary date, Interjet’s fleet logged over than 12,000 flight hours and 11,400 cycles. The maximum utilization in one day was over 11 flight hours. Since EIS Interjet’s SSJ100 fleet confirmed outstanding results in terms of performance in the typical high-altitude environment of Mexico. According to the airline’s operational reliability report, the SSJ100 reports technical dispatch reliability at an average 99%. Over the year of operations, the SSJ100 fleet has not logged any cancellations due to technical reasons.
The fleet time leader is the first delivered SSJ100 (MSN 95023), which logged more than 2400 FH and 2300 FC starting from the EIS in September 18, 2013. Interjet has ordered 20 SSJ100s plus 10 options in the basic version with a 93-seats. The tenth SSJ100 aircraft has been delivered and it will be transferred from Italy to Mexico on October 3rd, 2014. Superjet is rightly proud of their aircraft at Interjet.
Superjet is reported to be working assiduously to get an order from Alitalia. Might Alitalia be interested in adding SSJs to their fleet? We feel that the size of the aircraft is not in line with the new fleet plans since joining the Etihad alliance. Alitalia’s current fleet situation is mainly due to their insistence in competing with LCCs on short haul, without having the same cost structure, instead of concentrating on the long range. Therefore we would expect that the fleet evolution will see the number of widebodies increasing while narrow bodies will decline.
Since the Superjet is a 100-seater, and below the “usual” narrow body definition, it may be still useful for some point to point routes feeding the long haul flights. The key point for Alitalia would be to decide if they require a regional fleet. If the answer is positive then the SSJ-100 could demonstrate, for Alitalia operations, to provide economical service compared to the E-190 currently in the fleet.
The newer design, the fuel consumption and the cabin could be good factors in favor of the SSJ. Plus having the completion center and product support organization based in Italy could be another advantage. But, once again, these elements should be supported by a very compelling pricing gap in order to justify a fleet change.
Our sense is that the SSJ is technically good although to be deployed among EU-based airlines, may suffer some teething problem due to its clean sheet design. The question about the SSJ’s success will turn around the commercial and marketing aspects. In this regard the Interjet experience is very helpful.
There are three items of concern for a potential operator:
- It is still a new aircraft and engine design
- It is sold and supported by a multinational consortium with its first experience and building up its structure
- Although it has a very high Western content it is still perceived as Russian technology.
In order to be welcomed by a very conservative market (Europe) these three elements should be offset by a very aggressive marketing effort by SSJ team in terms of pricing, flexibility and support. We believe that an airline can only accept the risks posed to its operation by the three factors in presence of a large enough price difference over competitors and the provision of additional flexibilities by the manufacturer that would allow the operator to “test” and develop an appreciation of the aircraft.
Once the aircraft is more established in the market then terms of sale could get closer to those of the competitors. Again though, the positive Interjet experience is going to provide much of this. It would just be so much better if Interjet were EU-based rather than in Mexico in terms of marketing the aircraft in Europe.