Moscow, Russia - Norwegian is in talks with the Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi Commercial Aircraft for the lease of 40 SSJ100 regional jets.
Sources who are close to the matter claim that the Norwegian low-cost carrier has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in exchange for the rights to use trans-Siberian routes.
Norwegian has been trying to obtain permission from the Russian authorities for quite some time to launch direct flights via Siberia between Europe and Asia.
Sukhoi's SSJ100 is suffering from the lack of foreign customers. The aircraft is mostly operated on domestic routes in Russia and CIS countries.
The only foreign operators of the aircraft the Mexican Interjet and Irish CityJet removed the aircraft from their fleets due to the repeated engine failures and lack of spare parts.
So far this year, Sukhoi Commercial Aircraft has sold only one SSJ100 jet.
Last week, the Russian government sources announced that the Serbian flag carrier Air Serbia was in talks with the Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi to acquire isome SS100 Superjet.
The deal between Air Serbia and the UAC subsidiary to likely include the establishment of an SSJ100 MRO center in Belgrade that would be jointly managed by the Serbian MRO provider Jat Tehnika and Russian United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
According to the Russian TV channel RBC, Sukhoi Commercial aircraft will initially deliver ten SSJ100 Superjets to Norwegian Air Argentina, the South American subsidiary of the Nordic carrier.
Another 30 aircraft will then join the parent company’s fleet.
In exchange for leasing 40 SSJ100, Norwegian is expected to have the right to use the trans-Siberian corridor.
The airline has been in talks with Russian authorities for several years to use the routes over Siberia for direct flights between its bases in Europe and destinations in China such as China, Japan, and South Korea.
Norwegian aims to save up to five hours of flight time and USD80,000 on round flights using the shorter routes over Siberia.