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19 May, 2009 06:06

French airline orders to underpin outlook for Superjet 100

Russia's Trade Minister, Viktor Khristenko has told RT a French airline will become the Superjet 100's next buyer. The news comes in turbulent times for the Sukhoi project.

Reports claim Superjet will drop output for the next four years from 230 to just 74 units. Chief client, Aeroflot, is reviewing purchase contracts, after a 21% crash in First Quarter travel. Sukhoi head Mikhail Pogosyan warns without more state money the project won't pull through. A worried government, through Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko, guaranteed enough funds to save planned production, and revealed vital new orders.

“The Superjet is a priority project for the government, and we won't cut its budget by a single kopek.
We are slightly moving back the timeframe, but will still produce 1,000 Superjets as planned. A French airline will be its next customer.”

With half the project led by foreign firms, like Snecma of France and Italy's Finmeccanica, problems for the S100 are problems for the EU. But Gunter Verheugen, European Commisioner for Enterprise and Industry is putting a brave face on the situation.

“The crisis will be sooner or later over and then you can expect that you will see strong demand for new aircraft, in particular in the sector Superjet is established, so I'm not too concerned.”

The plane will hope to recover some glory at next month's Le Bourget. It will announce fresh orders, and the director of Europe's largest airshow says Superjet will be the star performer.