Russian leisure airline Red Wings has embarked on an ambitious project to operate 60 Sukhoi Superjets By 2024. The Ilyushin Finance-owned airline wants to transform itself by using a Russian-made fleet of aircraft. This idea was something Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would like to see when speaking back in May.
Currently, Red Wings operates four Airbus A320-200, eight Airbus A321-200s, and has 16 Russian-made Irkut MC-21-300 single-aisle twin -jets on order with the first deliveries due in 2021.
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Red Wings to base planes in Yekaterinburg
The Moscow-based airline has also just taken delivery of its first batch of 60 Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional airliners, according to aviation website Russian Aviation Insider. The plan is to launch several domestic routes from Yekaterinburg in Sverdlovsk Oblast with three SSJ100s by the end of the month.
By the end of the year, Red Wings will offer nine routes from Yekaterinburg, providing competition for the privately-owned Ural Airlines.
Deliveries of the remaining 57 planes are scheduled for four more this year, 21 in 2021 and 30 by the end of 2024. Financing for the aircraft is being arranged by state-owned Promsvyazbank and its leasing arm PSB Leasing.
Red Wings wants regional hubs
Red Wing plans to operate not just out of Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME) but from regional strategic hubs around Russia. The reason Red Wing chose Yekaterinburg was that it sits at the crossroads between Europe and Asia.
The second airport to become a hub is believed to be Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA) just to Moscow’s southeast, where Red Wings hopes to operate international flights. Within the next three years, Red Wings would like to also base planes at Mineralnye Vody Airport (MRV) and Sochi International Airport (EAR).
These two locations have been selected because both are year-round resorts. Also on the list are Pulkovo Airport (LED) in St Petersburg, Khrabrovo Airport (KGD) in Russia’s European enclave of Kaliningrad, and Irkutsk International Airport (IKT) from where Red Wings would like to operate flights to China.
“It will help us take a more prominent position on the market, enter the, so to say, elite league of Russian carriers. It will also help support the reputation of the Russian aerospace industry and will get us on track to being the launch customer of the Russian-made MC-21 narrowbody.”
Last year Red Wings carried 3.1 million passengers with its 16 Airbus A320s making it the ninth-largest Russian airline by passenger numbers.
The Sukhoi Superjet 100
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) is a twin-engine 87 to 98 regional passenger jet designed by the Russian aircraft company Sukhoi. Since its inception, the SSJ100 has been plagued with missed deadlines, malfunctions, defective parts, and a shortage of engines.
In 2012 while doing a demonstration tour in Asia, an SSJ100 crashed into Mount Salak in Indonesia, killing all 45 passengers and crew. Involved in the crash were several of the project’s key engineers.
Sales of the plane ground to a halt and its leading supporter President Vladimir Putin lost interest. Since then and despite a crash that killed 41 passengers at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, the plane has made a comeback with over 130 SSJ100s in operation worldwide.
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