Russias Sukhoi Civil Aircraft is venturing onto a competitors home turf to pitch a luxury airplane at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, courting athletics teams with features such as onboard exercise bikes and massage tables.
With a market for chartered athletic flights topping $600 million annually merely in the U.S ., Sukhoi sees demand for customized aircrafts for sports professionals who travel as much as half the year, said Vice President Evgeny Andrachnikov. A model of the SportJet, based on Sukhois Superjet, is on display in Rio for Olympic delegations and sports executives from across the globe.
We deserve that spot in the sun, even if its under the Brazilian sun, Andrachnikov said in an interview at the Russian delegations guest house on the edge of Rios Copacabana beach.
Sukhois visit to the worlds pre-eminent international sporting event intensifies its competition with Embraer SA, the civilian- and military-jet manufacturer that is one of Brazils flagship producers. Moscow-based Sukhoi began test flying its Superjet 100 in 2008, edging into the regional-aircraft market in which Embraer has grown dominant over one-time leader Bombardier Inc.
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For athletes, the SportJet will be fitted with exercise bicycles, massage beds and seats that monitor heart rate, hydration and oxygen levels. Coaches and athletes can review matches while huddling around a small table with a wide-screen television. More-modest seating is available for administrative staff. Sukhoi unveiled the model earlier this year.
Sukhoi plans to deliver its first SportJet as soon as late 2017.
Sukhois commercial Superjet is flown by carriers including Mexicos Interjet, which started utilizing the plane in 2013, and Irish carrier CityJet, which began operations with it this year. Configured to carry 93 people, the Superjet is roughly the same size as Embraers best-selling E-jet family — and the upgraded E2 due afterward this decade — and the smallest version of Bombardiers new C Series.
Embraer said in an e-mail that its line of commercial planes provide flexible, and that it has customized aircraft for clients including the Brazilian government. Montreal-based Bombardier didnt respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
Russias growing soccer and hockey leagues are natural clients for the SportJet, Andrachnikov said.
Charter budgets are fat, Andrachnikov told. We can go after the leagues themselves, or we can go after the recipients of teams one by one. These aircraft will offer higher quality for less money.
While Sukhoi isnt quoting a price for the athletics model, a 10 -plane Superjet order by Interjet was listed at $350 million in 2015. Analysts have estimated the SportJet may sell for about $30 million.
Models in use by athletics teams now have more seats than they need and weigh more than a SportJet, leading to higher airport fees and operating costs, Andrachnikov said. Rising spending by athletics leagues in Russia and China offer Sukhoi a chance to expand sales in the purchaser marketplace for regional jets, he said.