Antonov Busines Jet pitches at businessmen needing the hard yards

Businessmen who fly to oilfields and other remote areas are being targeted as customers for a new Russian-Ukrainian business aircraft. The makers of the Antonov Business Jet claim its durability will make oil firms one of many groups looking to buy the pl

The Antonov Business Jet's being promoted at the Domodedovo Airshow this week.

The plane's marketing agents Ilyushin Finance admit they lack the sales and service network of established rivals like Bombardier and Embraer. That's why Antonov still have delivery slots available in 2010, when rivals are full to 2013.

But the Antonov has a unique selling point in its high wing clearance, which allows landing on uneven runways, common in oilfields as well as regional airports. The plane also claims to be up 270 times more resistant than competitors to engine absorption of the dirt often found on local runways. Andrey Lebedinetz, Deputy Marketing director of Ilyushin Finance, says the robust nature of the aircraft, plus its cost advantage, will make it competitive in any environment where local conditions are less than perfect.

This aircraft is for harsh environment, Africa, Latin America, the east of Russia. It will cost between $30 and $35mln. Compared to Embraer and Bombardier the advantage is 10-15% in terms of price.

Vasily Pasetchnik, Vice President of Net Jets Europe, the world's largest private plane operator, hopes Antonov have learnt from the traditional Soviet aircraft flaw.

Of course it's comfort, it's the levels of comfort, and I trust that the aircraft makers have invested their time and thinking into that.

The head of Russia's Business Aviation lobby Maksim Fedotov admits he'd rather have this Canadian Challenger than a domestic jet. But on a Siberian gas field at minus 50 degrees celsius, he says, only a Russian plane can be trusted to start and take off.