Slovenia’s Adria Airways signed a letter of intent (LOI) to acquire 15 Sukhoi Superjet 100s (SSJ100s) via a long-term lease arrangement and signed an MOU with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. (SCAC) to establish a joint MRO operation at Ljubljana Airport.

Deliveries are expected to start in the beginning of 2019.

“During the past two years we were analyzing the SSJ100 type and came to the conclusion that all the technical and operational characteristics of this aircraft would suit best for our strategic goals,” Adria CEO Holger Kowarsch said, adding the introduction of the Russian aircraft would enable the Ljubljana-based carrier to offer more aircraft for aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) service.

Adria currently operates three Airbus A319s, nine Bombardier CRJ900LRs, three CRJ700ERs and six Saab 2000s. All A319s, one CRJ700 and half of Saabs are used for ACMI services that are being considered as one of the key development directions by the carrier.

Adria will become the second European operator for Superjet 100. The launch customer for the region was Irish-based CityJet, which has operated the type since 2016. Four of its seven SSJ100s are wet-leased by Brussels Airlines through March 2019. The Belgian carrier refused to prolong the lease because of the aircraft’s teething problems.

The Russian manufacturer evidently wants to avoid such problems with Adria. It has already agreed to set up a joint MRO center in Ljubljana Airport for better maintenance support. “That service platform will secure the operational reliability of SSJ100 aircraft in Europe,” SCAC president Alexander Rubtsov said.

The Superjet 100 entered commercial operations in 2011 and was certified by EASA in 2012. In addition to Russia, the aircraft also operates in Europe, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Thailand.

Maxim Pyadushkin,