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New plans in Russia

Red Wings has to take over 60 Superjets

The Russian Red Wings is ordered by the government to take on 60 super jets. An earlier appearance of the regional jet with the airline did not last long.

Red Wings is happy to pay tribute to the history of national aircraft construction. On Facebook, the Russian airline repeatedly honors designers or historic aircraft of the former Soviet Union. Outside the social networks, however, it has long since devoted itself to Western models.

Red Wings now operates four Airbus A320 and ten A321. Fleet policy has changed in its almost 20-year history. In its early years, the airline relied on the Tupolev Tu-204s, before a failed landing and a series of breakdowns in 2012 heralded the end of the medium-haul aircraft  and Western aircraft took to the stage. An order of the Russian government now provides for a return to the roots for Red Wings’ fleet.

Major expansion with Russian aircraft

Red Wings must take over 60 Superjets 100, as Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told the television station Rossiya 1 on Sunday (May 17). Also the arrival of 16 Irkut MS-21 is planned. The airline is owned by the aircraft manufacturer UAC through the leasing company Ilyushin Finance Corporation, which is controlled by Russia’s state aerospace group Rostec.

«On the basis of Red Wings […] we will create an airline that will concentrate on the operation of aircraft of Russian origin», Borisov explains. Last February it was already announced that Russia wants to boost its aircraft production by establishing a regional airline.

Rebuilding instead of founding a new airline

Among other things, this will be equipped with Irkut MS 21 and Superjet – both aircraft are products of UAC. While the short and medium range aircraft MS-21 is still is in its test campaign, the short range aircraft Superjet is already introduced for some time and can look back on moderate success. Canceled orders, difficulties with service and spare parts supply and the accident of Aeroflot flight SU1492 with 41 fatalities last year spoiled business.

A conversion of Red Wings into a regional airline could replace Russia’s plan to establish a new airline. Last week, President Vladimir Putin was presented with plans to this effect at a meeting with representatives of Rostec and UAC, the Vedomosti newspaper reports, citing internal sources. Some of the 60 superjets have already been built or are from production slots reserved for customers who have bailed out, such as Interjet from Mexico or City Jet from Ireland.

Red Wings as a replacement for customers who dropped out

According to internal sources, the Superjets could be delivered as early as this year, until 2024. The super jet is not unknown at Red Wings. From 2015, the airline flew in a total of five copies of the short-haul aircraft. However, the aircraft was not successful. Due to unprofitability, the airline dissolved its entire Superjet fleet in 2016.

The 16 Irkut MS-21s have already planned for the fleet for some time. Last March, Red Wings CEO Evgeny Klyucharev declared that the airline intends to concentrate on A320 and MS-21 operations in the near future. Six short-haul Airbus A220s were cancelled because the leasing rates were too expensive.

State subsidies in prospect

As it is further stated in Russian media, for the procurement of the Superjet 100 are planned subsidies in the amount of about 100 billion rubles or the equivalent of about 1.26 billion euros.

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