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UAC withdraws from Superjet 100, investors eye UAE production plant

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As part of UAC’s agreement to exit the Superjet 100 program, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) will sell its entire 49 percent stake in Venice, Italy’s SuperJet International (SJI) to the UAE’s Mark AB Capital Investments. The deal will see the Russian conglomerate transfer design and production rights to Venice-based SJI, which will build a new production facility in Al Ain, UAE.

Mark AB Capital will own 49% of SJI, while Studio Guidotti International retains 41% and Leonardo 10%, after receiving authorization from the Russian and Italian governments to unfreeze SJI’s shares and assets.

The entry of new shareholders and the unfreezing of SJI’s shares and assets are “mandatory prerequisites” for the implementation of the restart plan formulated by SJI and Mark Capital. The partners plan to commit 190 million euros ($201 million), of which 110 million euros will go to the Venice factory, which will continue to be responsible for marketing and sales activities, installation of aircraft options, pilot and crew training, final flight testing, delivery of and customer support.

The investment will be used to develop new aircraft configurations, establish a new SJI branch in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and continue to develop aircraft to meet market competition.

“This agreement is of great value to our company, as the cessation of commercial relations with UAC will free the company from the burden of restrictions imposed by EU sanctions regulations,” said Camillo, CEO of SuperJet International Perfido. “SJI will once again demonstrate the exceptional technical skills of its employees who have managed to face difficult times with integrity and responsibility”.

To support industrial and commercial activity, the new company organization gradually increased the number of employees to 800, roughly equal between Venice and Al Ain. Venice’s workforce has shrunk from a peak of 250 to 110, initially due to the coronavirus pandemic but now largely due to sanctions.

SJI forecasts sales of “at least” 240 aircraft, spanning passenger, business and cargo aircraft, most of which will go to the UAE and Indian markets.

The Venice headquarters will manage the direction of the program and maintain ENAC and EASA accreditation. It will be a Design Organization (DOA) for aircraft type certification, giving it the ability to develop new aircraft configurations (both business and cargo), and a Production Organization (POA), giving it full control over the supply chain.

Plans for a new branch at Al Ain International Airport could be a major opportunity for the UAE, whose fledgling aviation industry is still in its infancy. “Therefore, at an initial stage, it will be possible to leverage the available national aerospace subcontractor base, especially for the production of engine parts and aerostructures, as well as engineering support for the nascent UAE aviation industry,” concluded SJI.

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