|Antwerp-based regional carrier VLM Airlines, which last month launched several new scheduled routes with its Fokker 50 fleet, has announced that the Sukhoi Superjet 100 LR (SSJ100 LR) regional aircraft is to enter service with the airline in Q3 2016.
Delivery of the aircraft to VLM is being postponed from April 2015 to enable the completion of EASA certification of features on the long-range variant, including takeoff and landing flaps settings, which are modified from the EASA-certified base model Superjet and which bring significant performance enhancements.
The long-range capabilities of the aircraft are expected to be very beneficial to VLM, enabling the airline to add new, commercially attractive destinations to its expanding scheduled route network.
Under a Letter of Intent signed in October 2014 with Ilyushin Finance Co., VLM has the option to lease up to four SSJ100 LRs and a further purchase option on ten aircraft.
Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines, says: “We have entered an exciting new phase of VLM’s growth, with new scheduled services linking Antwerp with Geneva and Hamburg, Rotterdam with Hamburg, and, from May onwards, Liège with Avignon, Nice, Bologna and Venice.
“The Superjet will be an excellent complement to VLM’s Fokker 50 fleet, and the long-range variant is best suited to our business model. While we are naturally looking forward to the new aircraft entering service, this mutually agreed delay will allow us to enjoy the Superjet’s full capability from the very first day of operation.”
Alexander Rubtsov, CEO of Ilyushin Finance Co., comments: “We have worked with VLM to develop a business model which extracts the maximum advantage of the Superjet in its long-range version. We are still working together to see if there are opportunities within the VLM network to deploy some of the basic version aircraft. It has been interesting working with VLM to explore how the Superjet can be used in Europe, where there are some significant opportunities for the SSJ and VLM Airlines.”
Antwerp, Belgium, 2 March 2015