Russian airline UTair will acquire and bring back into service previously retired Yakovlev Yak-40 and Yak-42 aircraft.
The aircraft will serve on regional flights instead of new Sukhoi Superjet 100, which were ordered by the company but have not yet been received.
The news was first announced by Russian Telegram channel Baza, which regularly posts insider information from the country’s governmental institutions.
Multiple Russian news sources, including newspapers Kommersant and Nakanune, also reported the claim adding that they were unable to independently confirm the news and that UTair have not responded to a request for comment.
According to Baza, UTair has already signed a leasing agreement for two Yak-42s. The airline allegedly plans to acquire 20 aircraft in total and is mostly interested in the long-range modification Yak-42D.
The sources also said that the jets will be brought back from storage and refurbished.
Established in 1991, UTair used a number of Yak-40s and Yak-42s since the early 1990s. The airline retired the last of these aircraft in 2019. It is unknown whether the airline will be reacquiring aircraft from its original fleet.
In 2011, UTair ordered 24 SSJ100s, however, due to the company’s financial problems, the order has been cancelled. The company began to rent several Superjets in 2018 but ceased operating the aircraft soon after.
The airline currently operates Boeing 737 and 767s, as well as ATR 72 turboprops. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, UTair, like the rest of Russian airlines, refused to return its aircraft to foreign lessors. However, due to Western sanctions forbidding the maintenance and sale of parts, it is unclear how long the aircraft will be able to remain operational.
According to Baza, UTair tried to acquire a new batch of SSJ100s, but was unable to do so owing to the lack of aircraft and their spare parts on the market.
Yak-40 is a three-engine regional jet with a passenger capacity of 42 seats produced in the Soviet Union between 1967-1981. Yak-42 is its stretched variant, with the capacity of up to 120 seats, and was produced between 1979-2003.