Bombardier Q400. Courtesy, Bombardier

Russian carriers are turning to Western-built regional aircraftas they replace Soviet-built fleets.

Russian regional carrier Saravia Airlines (6W) will lease three Bombardier Q400s, the company said in a statement. Ilyushin Finance Co will finance the deal. The Q400 is expected to receive certification from Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee Aviation Register (IAC AR) in May.

Last November, Aeroflot acquired 6W from Russian state corporation Rostechnology, but in December sold it to private investors. Details of the transaction were not disclosed (ATW Daily News, Jan. 2).

In 2011, Bombardier’s CRJ200 became one of the most popular aircraft among Russian carriers, where nearly 50 of the type were delivered.

Speaking at the Aircraft Finance and Lease Russia & CIS, CEO Airclaims (CIS) Boris Bychkov said that demand for the CRJ200 was high as carriers replace older, Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-134s. Among the airlines that operate CRJ200s are UTair (15); Ak Bars Aero (eight), with seven more on the way this year; and RusLine (nine CRJ200s and six CRJ100s).

The decision by some US carriers to retire their CRJ200s has also lowered the prices for that type on the secondary market (ATW Daily News, Sept 2, 2010).

Some market experts are skeptical about the CRJ200’s successful performance in Russia, however. CEO Aviacapital-Service Roman Pakhomov said the aircraft’s operating costs were quite high in Russia, making it hard to cover expenses as it can carry only 50 passengers. Some experts also expressed doubt on the CRJ200’s suitability for the severe conditions of Russia’s regional airports (ATW Daily News, Dec 13, 2011).