Sukhoi Gets 28 More Orders For Superjet 100

LE BOURGET, France (AP) -- Sukhoi's new Superjet International 100 regional airliner notched up 28 more orders Tuesday, a day after the firm signed a letter of intent with Hungarian carrier Malev for 30 jets.

Sukhoi President Viktor Subbotin said the Moscow-based Avia leasing company had placed a firm order for 24 of the planes, while Spain's Gadair European Airlines ordered two jets with an option for two more.

The latest sales make the Superjet the hottest item so far at the Paris Air Show. Airbus has announced the sales of 40 new planes from the A320 family during the first two days of the exhibit.

Superjet International now has a total of 122 orders, Subbotin said. He did not specify how much the new orders were worth, but Monday's Malev deal is valued at up to $1 billion.

The Superjet 100 is the centerpiece in Russia's strategy to revitalize its civilian aircraft industry. It made its international debut with a spirited flying display at the show on Monday.

"We're very proud they have selected us for their needs," said Alessandro Franzoni, CEO of the Italy-based Superjet International, a joint venture between Sukhoi Civil Aircraft and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica.

Subbotin said he was optimistic about the prospects of the new airliner, despite tightening airline budgets, especially in the regional jet market. The Superjet hopes to successfully compete with established airframers such as Bombardier and Embraer, which enjoy a near-monopoly in the mid-range sector.

Soubbotin said he expected that the Superjet's low operating costs and novel maintenance arrangements would persuade airlines to opt for the new plane.

"The crisis has influenced the market, but this aircraft is a long-cycle product planned for the next several decades," he said. "We expect the recession to wane as we ramp up production, and we will enter the market with the perfect 100-seat plane."

Superjet International is opening offices in Washington and Beijing, an indication that it anticipates sales in both markets.

Sukhoi is a major Russian fighter manufacturer, which supplied large numbers of combat jets for the Soviet Warsaw Pact and other air forces during the Cold War. It now dominates the Russian military jet market, having edged out its main competitor MiG -- another iconic Cold War warplane builder -- from Russian air force orders.

The regional jet market has been hit particularly hard by the current financial crisis. Both Bombardier and Embraer have announced a sharp decline in orders, while Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft has not completed a single sale since the launch of its MRJ regional jet in March 2008.

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