An artist’s impression of how the SSJ100 would look like in Air Malta livery. (Photomontage: Riccardo Flask)
The Superjet100 made its first flight in 2008. Despite the best of intentions, the aircraft has not been a commercial success in the West, namely after Mexican Interjet and Irish Cityjet were not said to be overly enthusiastic once the type was introduced. The main issue with the Superjet100 has been the manufacturer’s erratic support rather than anything inherently wrong with the aircraft. Most of the people who flew on the type liked the spaciousness and legroom, although some complained it can be a little noisy at times.
MAviO News has met up with ATEOair’s CEO Oleg Evdokimov, who also has a contract with SCAC (Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company) to promote the SSJ100 in the Mediterranean and beyond. During a brief conversation, it transpired that ATEOair made a formal offer to supply KM with two 98-seat aircraft which are currently in storage at Venice airport where Superjet International has a completion and a training centre. These two aircraft are ex-Cityjet airframes and already registered on the island. Oleg pointed out that their introduction into the Air Malta fleet would be smooth given the fact that they are already sporting the Maltese flag. Besides the two aircraft, ATEOair is also keen to support the Maltese national carrier with consultancy services. Although a cash injection was not tabled with the original offer, Oleg Evdokimov explained that this cannot be excluded given the interest that his company has in the Sky Parks based carrier.
During the last few weeks Oleg Evdokimov and his team have been working incessantly to try and revive Air Italy. The plan which has the approval of SCAC in Moscow, includes inserting up to 10 SSJ100 into Air Italy’s fleet to relaunch operations. The two aircraft pitched to KM management currently belong to Seraph Leasing with the latter company being a joint venture between SCAC and VEB Bank.
ATEOair made a formal offer in late February 2021 and got a reply approximately 15-days later. Air Malta has declined ATEOair’s offer. Despite Air Malta’s CEO David Curmi flatly refusing the latter offer, Oleg Evdokimov does not intend to give up, since he firmly believes that at this time and during the post-pandemic period the SSJ100 would be better suited for KM’s operation rather than the current fleet Airbus narrowbodies. The SSJ100 has been designed from the outset to have a similar cockpit layout to the A320 including FBW technology, thus helping pilots in their type-rating and transition training.
Interestingly, in early December 2020 Air Malta had already been toying with the idea of introducing a regional type. Then Air Malta chairman Charles Mangion exclusively revealed at the CAPA Summit in Berlin that the Maltese national airline was looking at the Airbus A220. KM was at the time developing a new strategy to provide links from the islands of the Mediterranean.