BAE Systems confirmed today it will offer Russian airlines a chance to purchase a fleet of Avro RJ85 regional jetliners, principally as a replacement for ageing aircraft operated on domestic and regional routes.
The British aerospace organisation has a fleet of 13 ex-Lufthansa RJ85s returning from lease at the beginning of March, with possible deals continuing through to 2011.
The particular variant of aircraft is certificated under the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (RIAC) airworthiness rules, and is thus capable of being operated in Russia and CIS countries.
Nigel Benson, director of sales and leasing for BAE Systems Asset Management explained: “Our offering to Russian airlines is simple.
“We know they urgently need capacity now as the existing aircraft will not remain in service for much longer.
“The RJ85 is affordable and is fully backed by BAE Systems with a complete suite of support services.”
The offer comes at a tough time for BAE, which has announced up to 2,500 job losses over the last year. Last week a BAE shed 230 posts from its submarine plant at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Earlier this week the British company also confirmed it would writedown £592 million, following an American government decision not to award the group’s US unit Armor Holdings a follow-on contract to make military trucks.
BAE’s full financial results are expected tomorrow.
However, the Avro RJ85 deal could offer a salve. Russian airlines have long recognised the utility of the ‘100-seat’ regional jet sector, argues BAE, with over 320 aircraft in this category currently operational.
Among these are nearly 200 Russian aircraft - such as the Tupolev Tu-134 and Yakovlev Yak-42 - which are nearing the end of their useful lives, are relatively fuel inefficient and have high operating costs and are, in some cases, noise restricted and so unable to be operated to and from the European Union.
New modern generation Russian and CIS designed and built replacement aircraft will not be available in the volume production quantities necessary for some years to come.
Me Benson added: “The ex-Lufthansa RJ85 aircraft are naturally to a high specification with 93 seats and are fully European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) compliant.
“They are fitted with long-range tanks and are to a common specification.
“With a long service life remaining, they will make ideal interim aircraft for airlines that are waiting for locally produced aircraft to come on stream over the next five years.”