VLM Airlines (Belgium) and Moscow-based aircraft lessor Ilyushin Finance Co. (IFC) have today signed a Letter of Intent that will see the airline become the first European operator of the long-range Sukhoi Superjet 100 LR (SSJ100 LR) regional aircraft.
VLM Airlines has selected the SSJ100 LR to spearhead the company’s launch of regional scheduled services in 2015, with details of its route network to be announced.
Under the terms of the LOI, VLM Airlines will take delivery of two SSJ100 LR aircraft in April 2015 under a 12-year operating lease, with options for two further aircraft. The deal also includes purchase rights for ten aircraft.
Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines, says: “While VLM Airlines will continue offering ACMI and charter services with our Fokker 50 fleet, we see an exciting opportunity as a niche scheduled operator. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 LR fits our new strategy perfectly, with its exceptional efficiency and performance, advanced fly-by-wire technologies and spacious cabin.
The SSJ100, Russia’s first serially manufactured passenger airliner, is a 103-seat regional jet designed and manufactured by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company in partnership with Alenia Aermacchi. The aircraft performed its maiden flight in 2008 and entered into service in 2011. The operating range of the long-range variant joining the VLM Airlines fleet is 2,470nm (4,578km), while the standard aircraft’s operating range is 1,645nm (3,048km).
The SSJ100 is powered by two SaM146 turbofan engines manufactured by PowerJet, a joint venture between Snecma and NPO Saturn. There are currently approaching 40 SSJ100 aircraft being operated successfully around the world and the type is certified by a number of regulatory authorities including EASA.