The company was established by entrepreneur Clarence Andrea Steyn, who laid out the plan in an interview with Aero Telegraph. Skylink Airways aims to fill a vacuum left by South African Airways (SAA) and become the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) operator in Africa.
According to the founder, the airline already found potential investors from both Russia and South Africa and started hiring ex-SAA personnel.
South African Airways (SAA) has been in deep financial trouble for years, and despite recent talks of restructuring and new investments, the company has stopped operations in 2020 and laid off a significant part of its workers. Steyn said Skylink Airways (not to be confused with Canadian SkyLink Aviation and SkyLink Express) should fill the gaps left by the SAA and have bases in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Superjet 100, also known as SSJ100, is a regional aircraft manufactured by Sukhoi, a subsidiary of Russian United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Introduced in 2011 and marketed heavily towards the international market, it became known for its many controversies.
The company also aims to cooperate closely with Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi. Special headquarters in Moscow are going to be established for this reason and plans for long-haul flights between South Africa and Russia are on the table. For the nearest future, Skylink aims to start operations in September 2022 and fly mostly to South African destinations, as well as several neighboring countries. It will operate two Embraer E190s and ten SSJ100 regional airliners. Of the latter aircraft, five planes are going to be purchased and five leased.
Steyn (Starlink holdings) is of the opinion that the Russian aircraft is perfect for Africa. He is economical, new technologies have been applied in it, and the accuracy of the aircraft manufacturers is high. In the future, the businessman expects to buy MS-21 aircraft.
Sukhoi Superjet 100 or SSJ100 is a regional jet airliner developed by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft in the 2000s. The first brand new ariliner made in Russia in the XXI century. The plane typically seats 87 to 98 passengers and is powered by two PowerJet SaM146 turbofans developed by a joint venture between French Safran and Russian NPO Saturn. By December 2018 nearly 170 airliners have been delivered.
The Russian manufacturer Sukhoi was founded in 1939 as a manufacturer of military aircraft. It moved into civilian aircraft in the late 1990s. In 2001 was funded by the Russian government to start design on a commercial passenger aircraft, considered an important development for its aviation sector.
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 offers a typical two-class capacity of 87, although this is stretched to 108 in a dense single class configuration. It has a range of 3,048 kilometers, and the long-range (LR) model has a range of 4,578 kilometers (the LR model adds extra fuel tanks in place of cargo space).
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