Russian Superjet100, MC-21 airplanes debut in Nigeria

Russian Superjet100, MC-21 airplanes debut in NigeriaRussian Export Centre (REC) on Wednesday showcased new Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ)100 and MC-21 aircraft to the Nigerian market, wooing airline operators to emerging opportunities.

The new equipment were designed with latest technology for efficient domestic and regional services, carrying between 100 and 200 passengers per flight.

Co-sponsor of the roadshow, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has pledged to support Nigerian carriers on a leasing programme with up to 85 per cent of the initial payment.

The SSJ100 is the flagship product of Sukhoi Civil Aviation Company, founded in 2000 to develop new models of commercial aircraft. The company has its headquarters in Moscow, Russia.

SSJ100 is a fusion of Russia’s famed aviation design and production skills with the latest systems from leading aerospace suppliers around the world. The SSJ100 offers standards of economy, performance, environment efficiency and comfort never before seen in a 100-seat airliner.

Designed to compete internationally with its An-148, Embraer E-Jet and Bombardier CSeries counterparts, the Superjet100 claims substantially lower operating costs, at a lower purchase price of $35 million (N12.6 billion).

The single-aisle MC-21 twinjet airliner was developed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau and produced by its parent Irkut, a branch of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), set up in created in 2002 to provide complete solutions in military and civilian aircraft design, testing, manufacturing, marketing, sales and after-sale support.

The initial design started in 2006 and detailed design was ongoing in 2011. After delaying the scheduled introduction from 2012 to 2020, Irkut rolled out the first MC-21-300 on 8 June 2016 and first flew the aircraft on 28 May 2017.

It has a capacity of 132–163 passengers in two-class configuration and cost between $72 and $91 million (N25.9 to N32.8 billion).

Global Head, Client Relations at Afreximbank, Rene Awambeng, at the roadshow and exhibition in Lagos, said the plan of REC, in partnership with Afreximbank and Exim Bank of Russia, is not just to sell aircraft, but to support the development of the African aviation, especially in the area of infrastructure.

Awambeng said: “For Afreximbank, the effective movement of goods and people is fundamental to Africa’s trade, growth and development objectives. Consequently, improving air transport on the international, regional and domestic across the continent has become a key priority area.”

He added that they were not unaware of the financial challenges of adding a new aircraft to an existing fleet, hence the provision of financial support platform for African operators.

Awambeng noted that already in place are the financial options to either lease with down payment or outright purchase.

Down payment for leased aircraft is 15 per cent, to which “we are ready to support with the remaining 85 per cent.”

“An airline that wants to lease should be able to come with 15 per cent equity. Ten per cent can come from the banks while five per cent from the airline. With good business plan and designated routes to operate, we can finance the 85 per cent,” he said.

Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt, Nogie Meggison, commended the group for choosing Nigerian market for the exhibition programme.

Meggison said with a population of about 200 million people and strategic location on the continent, “Nigeria is the right place for the new equipment”.

He, however, added that REC and its partners still have to convince regulators and operators alike that Russian aircraft are now safer unlike in the past. Also is the need to bring Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility closer to the African continent.

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