S-uper S-olution for J-at… SSJ 100 (Part 3)

Most people tend to associate Russian aviation with a high level of pollution, general lack of safety and efficiency. Naturally, the recent crash of the inefficient Tupolev Tu-134 didn’t help at all in changing this perception as news of the crash of the dated Soviet built aircraft travelled the world.

However, what could be said for the newest aircraft model from Russia, the Sukhoi Super Jet 100?

For quite some time now I have been advocating that the SSJ 100-75 model would have been the most suitable aircraft for Jat Airways. Naturally, this idea was received with scepticism, amidst claims that the best model would be the Embraer jet.

They were right, the Embraer family with its proven reliability and safety record would have been the best and safest aircraft for Jat. However, the E-jet is the most suitable aircraft for numerous airlines around the world which means that these aircraft are not easily found on the market.

By analysing the situation within the Serbian airline I noticed that on the vast majority of European routes they operate their Boeing B737-300, with an average load factor of 60%. Jat’s 737s are equipped with 125 seats which means that on average they have 70 passengers per flight.

The SSJ 100-75 accommodates around 78 passengers, making it the ideal candidate.

Naturally, when compared to the E-170 aircraft, its equivalent within the Embraer family, the SSJ appears to be even more impressive.

The only characteristic that is clearly superior with the E-170 over the SSJ is the range with full load. The E-jet has a range of 3,892kms whereas the SSJ has about 2,900kms. This fact however is irrelevant to Jat Airways as their longest flight on these models would be 2 hours and 30 minutes.

In addition to having a roomier cabin the SSJ has a greater maximum take-off weight (MTOW), beating the E-jet by 2,500 kilos. Other characteristics of these two models are more or less the same and they are not worth mentioning here.

If Jat was to order a brand new E-jet the waiting time would be calculated in years. As the SSJ is a new model, airlines are reluctant to place orders as they are waiting for airlines that have received them to give a final verdict.

At the Paris air show the SSJ secured an order for 8 aircraft from the Italian carrier Blue Panorama in addition to 10 orders from Indonesia. Just a couple of months previously the Mexican airline Interjet had placed an order for 15 aircraft with a generous seat pitch of 34.

The time is right for Jat to look into this model. Their 737 fleet is ineffective for their current network. For example, their daily flight to Athens is mostly served by the 737 and has recorded an average load factor of 41% in the period January-May.  If Jat had used the SSJ on the route it would have improved its average load factor to 78%, which would enable it to increase frequencies and offer more connecting possibilities to regional passengers.

Athens is just one among the numerous routes where the SSJ would be the perfect candidate. Other cities such as Berlin, Gothenburg, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Rome, for example, would have been the perfect candidates.

One airline which has managed to work wonders with regional aircraft is Poland’s Lot. With its core fleet made up of Embraer jets it covers the majority of European routes. The airline has understood that in today’s aviation world passengers are looking for frequency over capacity. However routes that demand higher capacity are served by Boeing 737 aircraft.

Even on its Warsaw-Belgrade-Warsaw route, the airline initially used its E-145 which was upgraded to an E-170 once the route matured. Lot’s average load factor to Belgrade in 2011 was around 60%.

One could say that Jat today is where Lot was several years ago. When Lot placed its order for the E-170 jet the Brazilian manufacturer was far from famous. Today some of the biggest airlines in the world rely on the E-jet to serve their regional routes. In Europe, Lufthansa has managed to revolutionize its regional market with the arrival of their Embraer jets.

Even on its Munich-Belgrade-Munich thrice daily flights the A319 (which was very common at that time) was replaced by the E-jets.

So should Jat recognize the potential of the SSJ 100-75 and place an early order? After all the feedback coming from the launch customer Armavia of Armenia has been nothing but positive. Below is a recent statement by an Armavia pilot:

“The aircraft demonstrates remarkable performance at operation. The flights go without any serious delays. All flights are made in automatic control mode at the altitude of 35000 – 39000ft. The speed is 0,78-0,8M. SSJ100 has got remarkable flight deck ergonomics and control features. It’s easy and comfortable to handle” stated Armavia SSJ100 Captain Aram Egoyan.

As always we have no choice but to sit and wait to see what happens in Jat. The airline is keen to order B737-700s as part of the fleet renewal, however there was no mention if the order is intended to add capacity or replace the old Boeings.

However, with its average load factor at around 60% the airline should seriously reconsider adding additional capacity to its network.

Even its most popular European routes do not manage to secure a load factor greater than 80%.

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10 Responses to S-uper S-olution for J-at… SSJ 100 (Part 3)

  1. niko says:

    that would be not smart at all having in mind JAT Tehnika’a ability to service Boeing and Airbus/ATR but first of all because of the still not settled deal with Aribus. They are in no position to buy new aircraft at all and if so than ATR or A319

    • Actually the whole point of this entry was to state that Jat has too much capacity which is hurting it in the long run. By getting the Airbus A319, Jat Tehnika would still need to invest in opening up the service line. So if they have to spend money then they should do it for a plane that suits Jat more. Anyone with some sort of knowledge in aviation knows that Jat needs smaller capacity aircraft. That is a plane with less than 100 seats.
      They can’t send their Atrs to destinations such as Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Brussels… Embraers and Sukhois are perfect for that. The Airbus A319 or even the B737-700 are too big for such destinations- unless they are served twice per week. Jat’s flight to Amsterdam had an average load factor of 57% in 2011, Copenhagen 56% and so on. Their loads are horrible which indicates that their prime target should not be the Boeing or Airbus but rather something along the lines of Embraer, Sukhoi or even Canadair.

      Also, the pending deal with Airbust does not mean Jat is not allowed to renew their fleet, so why should they opt for something that will clearly harm them even more in the long run. Not to mention if they do get the 4 A319s, what does that mean? That they are going to operate a fleet of 4 A319s, 4 Atr-72s and 10 B737-300s? With such fleet they are completely destroying the very foundation of airline business- fleet comonality. It’s not like they are operating new and old generations of Boeings but we are talking about three completely different manufacturers.
      Look at Tarom, they were forced by the EU to buy the A318 where only a couple of years later they renewed their fleet with Boeings (-700 and -800). Jat is operating out of a much smaller market and it can’t allow itself to make such a mistake. Especially not when you are operating out of an airport where you are competing with 33 airlines.

  2. b737 says:

    I think that the biggest problem for Jat is lack off true strategy, and that someone with balls make decision and decide to acquire regional jets, as a part of growth strategy and development of new destinations. After that, in my opinion, it is easier to make is SSJ 100, Embrarer or Bombardier more suitable for Jat.But, and for SSJ or Embraer needs time to enter in service as part of Jat’s fleet, and Jat does not have so much time in future if it wants to survive, unfortunately. So it is urgent for Jat to find some strategic partner, because those “smartheads” from government do not know what they want from and for jat. What do you think, dose Jat have chance to find good partner??

    • Hey,

      Like you said, Jat needs regional jets and they need them fast. If Jat does get sold to Turkish Airlines then they are most definetly not going to get the regional jets as TKs smallest aircraft are the B737-700/A-319, which are too big for the vast majority of the routes within Jat’s network. On the other hand, if they get sold to Aeroflot then they could receive the SSJ quite fast as SU has quite a lot of them or oder, with the first one already in service.
      So, to be honnest I believe that by getting a partner or if it gets sold it doesn’t really changes things for Jat in regards to the fleet renewal. One smart thing that the current managment managed to do is to reduce the network and concentrate on the key routes in Europe. Good example of that change is the flight to Dusseldorf (where Jat has an average loadfactor of 70% from Jan-May) and Athens where it is not doing as well (41%). Athens on the other hand is doing badly probably because there are no connecting possibilities via Belgrade from the region. Jat carries far more passengers than Olympic does but the problem is that Olympic manages to make a greater profit on the route, even if their loadfactor is around 50%.
      Looking at the general results of airlines in Belgrade I realized that the vast majority of them have their cabin occupany of around 60%. That is quite bad. The probable reason for this is the recent surge of airlines serving Belgrade which caused a lot of airline to lose a part of their business. Jat should rather concentrate on surviving this massive competition in Belgrade than expanding their network by purchasing Boeings. However, in order to survive they need regional jets, and to get regional jets their managment needs to think of that, and in order for the managment to think of that they need to be competent and for the managment of Jat to be competent they need to be changed.
      So all I can say is that Jat will continue to shrink for quite some time as I doubt that either Aeroflot or Turkish Airlines will be interested in buy the airlines. Both airlines are currently undergoing major expansions with Turkish Airlines’ latest B777-300 named Anadolu scheduled for delivery today or tomorrow and Aeroflot which is scheduled to receive their own aircraft. What I am saying is that both airlines have other plans and other markets to concentrate on which are far more high yielding than the Serbian one.

      • b737 says:

        In my opinion Turkish Airlines is not interested in Jat at all, I think that is this part of their political influence in this region, and in that way they creating a picture about themselves. Aeroflot maybe, also politics will make great impact, and that depends how our politicians are good in what they are doing. For Jat is some Asian fast growing company who wants to enter on European market.

        I have one question, since you such reliable data about Jat’s LF and other information are working in Jat or? You can answer me on mail 🙂

  3. I do not think either Turkish Airlines or Aeroflot are interested in purchasing Jat. In my opinion nor would any Asian airline find interest in an old badly functioning airline with a 15 year old Airbus dispute.
    If any of these were going shopping in the Balkans then I suppose Tarom or even Bulgaria Air would be a wiser choice. Not to mention that there are 26 million Romanians which means that their market is far more appealing than the one of Serbia.
    Then again just next to the Balkans there is Malev which is also on sale so…

    Hehe I can actually answer to you here, I do not work for Jat, I don’t even live in Serbia. Civil Aviation is my passion and I try to find time to write as much as I can about the changes and developpments in Serbia. 🙂

  4. Aleks Nikolic says:

    Admin, one thing – you can remove the Beograd – Chicago flights, as they are not happening.. :// I was supposed to be on the first one..

  5. Sorry to hear that you didn’t manage to be on that flight. I hope that you didn’t have to go through much trouble after the cancellation.

  6. Aleks Nikolic says:

    Thank you, nobody did actually haha. Kind of, all together we travelled 5 days. Drove 8 hours from Cleveland to Rockford, then back 2 hours to Chicago to a hotel. Stayed there 3 days and we did not know what was going on until they called us and booked us on Lufthansa. We flew on a 747 😀 from Chicago to Frankfurt, waited 8 hours there, then got on a flight to Beograd that was packed to the last seat, but the pilot kept spoilers open and the plane slammed down at the end of the flight. We left 30 minutes late, however somehow we got there 7 minutes early. The pilot was speeding the plane around everywhere, it was hilarious.

  7. Well that sounds exciting. I am really glad that you got to enjoy your flights even if I am not a fan of Lufthansa’s B747-400 but I guess that it counts as an experience! 🙂

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