In the Spring of 2017, Brussels Airlines began operating its first Sukhoi Superjet 100 – also known as the SSJ100. It was on March 25th that the first SSJ100 arrived at the Lufthansa Group airline. Set up as a wet lease arrangement with Irish charter company CityJet, Brussels Airlines would go on to use three more for its regional services. With the contract having expired in March of 2019, what happened to these small aircraft and why was the carrier against renewing its agreement with CityJet?
Two years of service
According to Russian Aviation Insider, the Russian-built aircraft was selected to replace Brussels Airlines’ aging Avro RJ100s regional jets. The airline’s strategy called for phasing out these aging quad jets, replacing them with wet-leased aircraft. The carrier was looking for something small to complement its fleet of larger Airbus A320s.
It was in March of 2017 that the wet lease contract came into effect, and Brussels Airlines would take delivery of the SSJ100s through July 2018. This was a two-year agreement that the carrier was likely more than happy to be done with by 2019. In fact, Russian Aviation Insider reported in September of 2018 that the airline was not planning to renew its contract.
While the contract had the aircraft flying with Brussels Airlines until March 2019, Airport Spotting reports that the carrier had to suspend its SSJ100 operations a few months early, following a series of serviceability and reliability issues. Brussels Airlines wasn’t the only carrier burned by its decision to operate the jet. Mexican carrier Interjet had ordered 22 SSJ100s but was only operating a fraction of its fleet due to an inability to obtain spare parts.
“We have had very positive reactions from our passengers with the SSJ100, but it is still a very young aircraft and it has had some ‘childhood diseases.’ Every time such teething problems cropped up, it took longer to get the aircraft back into service than it would have been with other types. This has affected reliability figures. -Brussels Airlines spokesperson via Flying in Ireland
The jets would cease flying for Brussels Airlines in January 2019, two months short of the contract expiration. The carrier held on to its contract with CityJet to operate certain services. However, the SSJ100s were swapped for Bombardier CRJ aircraft. In fact, as of November 2020, CityJet only uses this aircraft type – it’s fleet consisting of 20 CRJ900s.
Where are the Brussels Airlines SSJ100s now?
According to Planespotters.net, here is where the four SSJ100s previously flying for Brussels Airlines are now:
EI-FWD went into storage at CityJet facilities in Shannon, Ireland. It would eventually be given registration 9H-SJD and go to aircraft management services firm Seraph Aviation Group.
EI-FWE would also have the same fate as EI-FWD. Finding itself in storage in Shannon, Ireland, after its time with Brussels Airlines. It would then become 9H-SJE and also go to the Seraph Aviation Group. The same thing happened to EI-FWF, which was re-registered as 9H-SJF.
The fate of EI-FWG was a bit of a twist from its other three counterparts. The aircraft was stored in Venice, Italy, and would eventually become became 9H-SJI with Superjet International. It was set to fly with Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways with registration S5-AFL, but this never occurred due to the airline’s collapse. The aircraft is now registered as I-PDVX and is listed as being with Superjet International.
Have you ever flown on the Sukhoi Superjet? Please share your experience with us in the comments.