Sukhoi circles as Iran needs 500 planes

The Sukhoi passenger SSJ-100 plane prepares to take off. The Russian planemaker has been circling Iran. (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Sukhoi circles as Iran needs 500 planes

  • Sanctions mean Boeing and Airbus cannot sell planes to Tehran
  • Sukhoi reported to reduce number of US parts to win order

DUBAI: Iran needs some 500 planes and would likely back buying the Sukhoi Superjet 100 if Russia is willing to sell them to its airlines, Iranian news agencies reported the country’s top civil aviation official as saying on Wednesday.
Iran needs to upgrade its aging passenger fleet and is seeking to avert US sanctions on Tehran.
The US Treasury has revoked licenses for Boeing and Airbus to sell passenger jets to Iran after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in May and reimposed sanctions.
Most modern commercial planes have more than 10 percent in US parts, the threshold for needing US Treasury approval.
But Russian officials have been reported as saying Sukhoi is working on reducing the number of US parts in the hopes of winning an Iranian order for up to 100 aircraft.
“If the Iranian airlines want to use this aircraft (Superjet 100 ) and the seller is willing to sell it to Iran, the Civil Aviation Organization is ready to issue its final comment on this aircraft,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Ali Abedzadeh, head of the Civil Aviation Organization, as saying.
“But this aircraft has adhered to world standards and is flying currently, therefore there is no reason for us to reject it,” Abedzadeh told Fars.
Flag-carrier IranAir had ordered 200 passenger aircraft — 100 from Airbus, 80 from Boeing and 20 from Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR before US licenses were revoked.
“The airlines have proposals for plane purchases and we are trying to devise regulations that will ease their aircraft imports. Considering Iran’s very large market, we need 500 planes now,” Abedzadeh was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.


Crisis at India’s Jet worsens as it grounds planes, faces strike

The debt-laden carrier has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors. (Reuters)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Crisis at India’s Jet worsens as it grounds planes, faces strike

  • More than 20,000 people are employed in the company
  • The company had to stop more than 50% of their aircraft due to insufficient funds

MUMBAI: India's Jet Airways was fighting multiple crises Wednesday after grounding six planes, leaving it with only a third of its fleet flying, while pilots have threatened to walk out and a major shareholder is reportedly looking to offload its huge stake.

The problems at India's number-two carrier come as other airlines struggle to turn a profit despite the sector rapidly expanding in the country over recent years.

Jet, which employs more than 20,000 people, is gasping under debts of more than $1 billion and has now been forced to ground a total of 78 of its 119 aircraft after failing to pay lenders and aircraft lessors.

In a statement late Tuesday announcing its latest grounding, the firm it said it was "actively engaging" with lenders to secure fresh liquidity and wanted to "minimise disruption".

But with hundreds of customers left stranded, Jet's social media accounts have been flooded with often suddenly stranded passengers demanding information, new flight tickets and refunds.

"@jetairways We book our flights in advance so that we save on travel cost and you are sending cancellation (message) now?", read one irate tweet on Wednesday.

"I have sent a DM (direct message) regarding my ticket details. Please respond!", said Sachin Deshpande, according to his Twitter profile a design engineer.

Another, Ankit Maloo, wrote: "Received an email for all together cancellation of flight days before departure without any prior intimation or communication over phone!"

The firm is also facing pressure from its many pilots who have not been paid on time, with unions threatening they will walk off the job if salaries do not arrive soon.

"Pilots will stop flying jet planes from 1st April 2019 if the company does not disburse due salaries and take concrete decisions," a spokesperson for the National Aviator's Guild, a pilots union, told AFP.

India's aviation regulator on Tuesday warned Jet Airways to ensure that staffers facing stress are not forced to operate flights.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates has offered to sell its 24 percent stake in Jet to State Bank of India (SBI).

A collapse would deal a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pragmatic pro-business reputation ahead of elections starting on April 11.

India's passenger numbers have rocketed six-fold over the past decade with its middle-class taking advantage of better connectivity and cheaper flights.

The country's aviation sector is projected to become the world's third-largest by 2025.

But like other carries, Mumbai-based Jet has been badly hit by fluctuating global crude prices, a weak rupee and fierce competition from budget rivals.

Alarm bells for Jet first rang in August when it failed to report its quarterly earnings or pay its staff, including pilots, on time. It then later reported a loss of $85 million.

In February, it secured a $1.19 billion bailout from lenders including SBI to bridge a funding gap, but the crisis has since deepened.

"Jet Airways is rapidly reaching a point of no return and running out of assets to keep itself afloat," Devesh Agarwal, editor of the Bangalore Aviation website, told AFP.

"The only solution is equity expansion by diluting its stakes but Jet is just trying to cut losses and running out of options," Agarwal said.

Shares in Jet Airways were down more than five percent on Wednesday.