Our conference pursues a somewhat unusual goal - to analyze the initial operational performance of a new aircraft type. It is as yet early to speak about full-scale operation for the An-148, but we already can draw certain conclusions based on the results of this aircraft's initial operation. Our airline's proposal to hold this conference, made after an internal analysis of the first operational results, was due primarily by our desire to put all parties involved in the loop as early on as possible, and to provide timely feedback on the aircraft's initial entry into commercial service.
First off, I would like to say that GTK Rossiya's choice of the An-148 was by no means accidental. We first looked at it back in 2004, when Pulkovo [the airline that merged with Rossiya in 2006] was retiring its Tupolev Tu-134 regional fleet. It was at this point that the airline began studying available options in the 60- to 80-seat capacity segment to replace the mainstay fleet; at that time, we were operating Ilyushin Il-86s, Tupolev Tu-154s and Tu-134s. We were considering the technical characteristics of the Sukhoi Superjet 100, and also of Antonov's airliners - in fact, we looked at interim aircraft versions that preceded the An-148, such as the An-74TK-300, the An-74-68, and certain others.
Our airline thoroughly studied all proposals and opted for the An-148. In 2007, we signed a financial lease agreement with Ilyushin Finance Co. (IFC) for six such airliners. The original schedule called for deliveries to be made in 2008-2009. In reality, we received our first An-148 only in December 2009. The second and third aircraft followed in early 2010.
Although the initial schedule slipped, deliveries continue at a dynamic pace. Three of our four aircraft already are in operation, and we expect to take delivery of the aircraft bearing registration RA-61704 as our fourth in June, followed by #705 in August, and #706 in November of this year. There is an obvious pace to these deliveries, signifying that production is now set up and running.
By the end of the year, Rossiya will have a fleet of six An-148s. So we decided to share our initial operating experience with you. Six aircraft already represents a serious fleet, and we are planning to log quite a few flight hours with them. Our airline's approach is this: the aircraft we buy must pay back our investment in revenue operations; they must justify our costs beginning this year.
It was not an easy job for us to negotiate for a customized aircraft version that would suit us. IFC, Pulkovo, Rossiya and Antonov set up working groups; we held 12 meetings to develop additional specifications and agree on optional equipment. All this work was necessary to get what our airline needed.