FARNBOROUGH, England/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian planemaker Superjet unveiled a $900 million, 30 plane order on Wednesday, capping a bumper Farnborough Airshow that has seen belated overseas interest in its passenger plane.
The much delayed Superjet 100 will be the first passenger plane built by Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, and will attempt to challenge market leaders Boeing and Airbus in the regional carrier sector.
The manufacturer, controlled by Russia’s state-controlled Sukhoi and 25 percent owned by Italy’s Finmeccanica, has reported 60 firm orders during the first three days of the event — taking the history of the program’s total to 161.
The latest was a $900 million deal with Bermuda-based lessor Pearl, with delivery of the 30 planes due next year. It followed a similar $951 million, 30 plane order on Monday by Indonesian airline Kartika.
Commercial plane orders have dominated this year’s Farnborough Airshow as the industry emerges from a two year market lull caused by the global economic slowdown.
The mid-sized Superjet 100 made its maiden flight in May 2008, but a series of project delays mean first deliveries will not be made until the end of this year. Sukhoi Chief Executive Mikhail Pogosyan reiterated the target earlier in the airshow.
Its early orders were predictably dominated by Russian state airline Aeroflot. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly urged Aeroflot Chief Executive Vitaly Savelyev to buy more locally made planes earlier this month.
Aeroflot had ordered 30 of the 100 planes announced before the airshow. Hungary’s Malev has also ordered 30, but the multi-national make-up of the Farnborough buyers takes the firm out of Eastern Europe.
“This agreement with an international leasing company (Pearl) is proof of the quality of this aircraft and further enhances our position in the market,” Superjet Chief Executive Alessandro Franzoni said of the latest deal.
A further 49 Superjet 100s have also been ordered during the airshow, including a possible 24 to Thailand’s Orient Thai Airlines, although these are either optional deals or at the memorandum of understanding (MOU) stage.
In a separate deal, Gazpromavia — the airline owned by Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom — said it had signed a letter of intent to buy 10 Superjet 100s, although it did not give a value.
And Russia’s OAK also said its Irkut subsidiary had signed a deal to sell 50 MC-21 passenger planes to Malaysian firm Crecom.
Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Writing by John Bowker, Editing by Samia Nakhoul