Sukhoi tries to woo PIA – but is it the best option?

Last week Sukhoi sent one of their Superjet SSJ 100-95LR aircraft on a demonstration tour and made a stopover at Karachi, Pakistan, presumably to pitch the aircraft to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

This is not the first time a Sukhoi SSJ 100 has landed in Pakistan. 5 years ago another demo aircraft made a brief stop at Karachi for a pitch and evaluation to local Pakistani airline Air Indus (which has since ceased operations) of which nothing materialized and cutting the demo tour unexpectedly short on a bad note due to the aircraft crashing in Indonesia after having left Pakistan.

It appears this time PIA is taking an interest in the SSJ 100 for domestic/regional routes, possibly as a go-between the ATR-42/72 and the Airbus A320, being an 87-108 seater with a range of about 3,048km (or 4,578km for the LR variant) and price tag of around $35 million (less after a possible discount), making it cheaper than its rivals – which brings us to consider the other options PIA could look at.

The Bombardier CS100 is one such alternative option worth considering. Being a 108-133 seater with a range of about 5,741km, it can carry about 30 more passengers and fly further than the SSJ 100. However the price tag is considerably higher than the SSJ at around $71 million and after discount would still be more expensive thereby making the SSJ a more feasible and attractive option for a financially fragile airline like PIA.

There are currently 191 Superjets on the order book, with 124 delivered. The majority of these are to Aeroflot, Interjet, Rossiya and Yamal Airlines. CityJet of Ireland has also ordered 15 Superjets, which are going to be modified specially for the steep approaches at London City Airport. Revised flap setting and modified brakes are part of the customisations.

Whether PIA actually needs a 87-130 seater as a go between the ATR-42/72 and A320 is another matter and a topic for another day (if anything achieves fruition) but it makes for a bit of interesting speculation and comparison.

Photo: Planespotters Pakistan

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