The Russian carrier Azimuth Airlines confirms its order for the two Airbus A220s; it is the first-ever order for the variant from Russia. Azimuth airlines announced the confirmations on 23rd July 2021 at the MAKS Air Show at the Zhukovsky Airport; the airline has signed the contract for the six of the A220-300 variants lease with the Air Lease Corporation. The airline only has Russian-made Sukhoi SuperJet aircraft in its service currently.
The first Russian airlines that will be using the narrow-body A220 aircraft will start receiving deliveries from mid-2022; the aircraft will be used for domestic and international flights.
Long-standing Expansion Plan
The deal ordering the Airbus A220s marks the commence of the long-standing expansion plans of the Russian airlines.
According to Director-General Pavel Ekzhanov, the airbus jetliners will be configured in a single-class cabin with a 148 seat layout; the aircraft will be used for both domestic and international flights. Azmuth will fly these aircraft from its home airports, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, and Mineralnye Vody Airports, to the destinations like Siberia, CIS nations, including Middle-East and Europe.
The aircraft with the potential to expand the Azimuth’s network will offer a whole set of options to the airline to configure its destinations, be it a short international journey or domestic routes. The powerful-performing Airbus A220s with a range of almost 3,400 miles is bound to give Azimuth Airlines more privilege than the current SuperJets used by the airlines with a max range of 2600 miles. This could possibly open more slots for the European nation and famous holiday destinations like Dubai, which are quite a hype for the Russian and CIS state travelers.
However, bringing the Airbus A220s into service will mean that the Azimuth Airlines is going out of its traditional one-fleet configuration, which most of the Russian airlines are used to. A220 was built as the fusion of performance and technology to connect even distant points of the continents. Powered by ‘Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G’, the aircraft delivers 25% lower fuel consumption per seat than its predecessor, cutting the noise footprint by half and reduced CO2 emission. It has dominated the aviation market for quite a while, so it is no wonder that the independent Russian carrier went for it. But, the aircraft’s 2-3 seating configurations might be slightly difficult for the Russian pilots used to the single-aisle fleet. Azimuth Airlines putting these A220s in service will also be a test for the aircraft on its technical aspects and performance in the remote Russian regions; A220s have shown exceptional durability and performance in every kind of season and destination across the world so far.
Azimuth doesn’t seem to be quite done with just bring the A220s into its family for its widening service strategy. Besides the new Airbus A220s addition to its fleet, Azimuth Airlines also announced its intention to lease another 10 SuperJets 100s to its fleet. The news even hit the headlines when it was announced on the first day of the MAKS2021; it seems like the Russian carrier is going all-out on its expansion process.
The Russian carrier signed a letter of intent with the Irkut corporation to add 10 of the SuperJets to its fleet during the MAKS2021. Irkut had just signed orders and leasing agreements for 58 of the Sukhoi SuperJet 100s on the first day of the MAKS2021.
If the motion is passed, after finalizing the pending finance lease, the airline is expected to receive 10 of its requested SuperJets over the next five years until 2026. Azimuth’s fleet consists of 14 SuperJets, six of the SSJ 100/95B variants, and eight SSJ 100/95LR.
The independent Russian carrier was founded only in 2017, home-based to the Rostov-on-Don, Platov, and Krasnodar airport, Pashkovsky. The airline aims to develop the air travel industry in the Southern and North Caucasus regions of Russia. The airlines had also been deemed as the ‘new face’ of the aviation industry in the South of Russia for its high standard carrier service and affordable fares throughout the Russian Federation.
The airline currently provides service to over 60 destinations; it also has sub-bases at the locations like Groznyj, Sochi, Volgograd, and Mineralyne Vody. Its international travel service has widespread routes in nations like Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Cyprus. In its three-year years of service, the Russian airlines carried over 2.5 million passengers, with an increased passengers rate of 86.3% in 2019 after just two years in service.