Back in 2012, Interjet made an enthusiastic order for the Russian Sukhoi SSJ100s, but in 2020 they only have four aircraft flying. What happened and why did Interjet fall out of love with the type?
Why did Interjet buy the Sukhoi SSJ100?
Back in 2012, Interjet was looking for a new regional aircraft in the 75-100 seater range for its feeder routes.
At the time, there were two options that were popular on the market. You had Bombardier with their range of Canadian built aircraft, and Embraer, with their Brazilian Ejet series. As the Mexican carrier was shopping around, they heard of a new type of aircraft from Russia; the Sukhoi SSJ100.
Not only did the Sukhoi offer an airframe that ticked all the boxes and would work in hot and high Mexico City, but it was also being offered at half the price of the other equivalents. This sealed the deal for Interjet, who went on to order 22 aircraft.
All was well until a report leaked in January 2018 that four of the new SSJ100 aircraft had been grounded for five months waiting on spare parts. These aircraft had been sitting there so long that Interjet decided to cannibalize them for parts to keep the rest of their fleet operational.
Following that, the numbers of active Interjet SSJ100 aircraft dwindled until 2019, when a fatal SSJ100 crash occurred in Moscow (caused by pilot error), forcing Interjet to come clean. They had only five out of twenty-two aircraft still operational.
Today Interjet is trying to move on from the SSJ100 mistake and is looking at replacing the aircraft with the Airbus A320 or the Airbus A220.
But what happened to its current aircraft?
Where are the SSJ100 aircraft now?
Interjet’s SSJ100 aircraft, apart from the few that are still flying, are currently stored in hangars in Mexico City. According to the latest sources, only four SSJ100 aircraft are in active rotation for the airline.
If Interjet does choose an Airbus fleet to replace its SSJ100s, then likely the original and broken SSJ100s will be returned back to Russia. It is unlikely that another airline will buy them as they have been grounded and proven unreliable.
There isn’t actually anything wrong with the SSJ100 as an aircraft. The plane is fine, it flies well, built cheap and fulfills its mission profile perfectly. It’s everything else that lets the plane down. The lack of spare parts, the bad press from pilot error crashes, the lack of manufacturer support (with them contradicting their clients no less).
SuperJet International, the builders of the SSJ100, has said that it is working on its spare parts supply, but it is too little too late for Interjet.
They might be half the price compared to Bombardier and Embraer, but when they don’t fly you are just paying for a very expensive paperweight.
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