The 2009 Paris Air Show has just begun today, with the expectation of no major aircraft orders due to the current economic crisis. Airbus and Boeing are still in the net cancellations for 2009, and they are not expecting any major orders this week.
But the economic crisis may be helping smaller, upcoming aircraft manufacturers to record some orders – as they can probably stay cheaper than the two major global companies. One of them is the new Russian Sukhoi Superjet, that has reportedly gained 30 orders from Malév Hungarian Airlines today. Sukhoi Superjet International has announced that it closed a deal with oneworld member Malev for 30 Sukhoi Superjet 100s (15 firm + 15 options), as Martin Gauss, CEO of Malév and Alessandro Franzoni, CEO of Superjet International have signed a letter of intent today at Le Bourget. It is not yet known whether it’s a complete purchase or a leasing deal, but the deal’s value is said to be in excess of 1 billion USD. According to the plans, the first aircraft would arrive at Malév in 2011, and 6 would follow each year. The Hungarians are the first known “Western” customers for the type, which marks its entry into the skies of the European Union – therefore it is a very important announcement for Sukhoi.
The Superjet was revealed in September 2007, but then fell behind original plans and got delayed, similar to other new aircrafts in the 21st century, but finally took to the skies on its first flight in June 2008. Malev has been tied with a possible order earlier, but this seems to be confirmed today.
Malév Hungarian Airlines currently operates a short-haul fleet with 18 Boeing 737 NGs making up most of the fleet and the turboprop Bombardier Q400 taking the regional role (replacing Fokker-70’s as those are being phased out). The question unanswered at the moment is whether the two-class configured SJJ100’s would be introduced as the third aircraft type or would replace either the 737s or the Q400s. We hope these 30 will be additional, as the 98 seat Superjet would not be able to take the role of the 737-700 and -800s that can carry up to 140 and 180 passengers respectively.
The deal itself may sound a surprise to some, but given the fact that the Russian state-owned Vnyesekonombank holds a minority stake in Malév and has been postponing its promised capital injection, this order for the Russian aircraft type may be part of the behind-the-scenes inter-government deal pushed down the throat of the ailing Hungarian state carrier.