Aeroflot Faces Delay in First Delivery of New Superjets

State-owned United Aviation Corp. said Monday that it might delay delivery of its new Superjet 100 passenger planes to Aeroflot beyond its contractual deadline of end-2008 as the plane has not yet launched.

Aeroflot last year ordered several dozen of the planes.

"Without a doubt, the timing became constrained. I don't exclude that it could be shifted. I can't say when they will be delivered to Aeroflot," company head Alexei Fyodorov told reporters.

The Superjet 100, designed to carry 75 to 95 passengers, was jointly created with U.S. air company Boeing. It was meant to start flying by the end of last year, but its launch was delayed.

"We hope to get it up in the air during the month of April," Fyodorov said, adding that his company hopes it will avoid any penalty fees. Aeroflot has said the company would face fines for late delivery.

The Superjet 100 is the fruit of almost a decade of efforts by Russia's largest warplane maker, Sukhoi, which is part of United Aviation.

It is the country's first all-new airliner since the Soviet collapse and is being targeted at Western airlines.

The Superjet will replace the aging Soviet-made fleet of Tu-134 and Yak-42 planes on domestic routes.

United Aircraft is offering to buy half of warplane maker Irkut Corp. for about $456 million, Bloomberg reported.

United Aircraft is offering to buy 49.9 percent of Irkut, or 488 million shares, for 22.28 rubles ($0.93) each, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday.

The offer is good through June 11.