The delivery of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 to the Mexican airline Interjet marks the aircraft’s entry into service in the West.

And that, says Nazario Cauceglia, CEO of SuperJet International, is extremely significant. “Everybody is watching its entry into service,” Cauceglia says. “This gives us a unique chance and we cannot lose it. This could open the door to the Western market.”

Interjet, the second-largest airline in Mexico, has ordered 20 aircraft, with options on another 10. It plans to fly them in Central America, and also on routes to Miami; Long Beach, Calif.; and San Antonio, which will introduce the Russian-built aircraft to the U.S.

Cauceglia says sales to Western airlines stand at 60, though some are still under negotiation. Total orders are 179.

The Interjet aircraft feature an exclusive interior designed by Pininfarina with 93 seats at a pitch of 34 inches. “Most airlines have a 30- to 31-inch pitch,” says Cauceglia.

“Interjet chose the SSJ100 for its interior space, and Pininfarina to design the environment and the seats, which are very roomy and elegant,” Cauceglia says. “A goal was some weight savings, and this interior and bins saved 500kg (1,100 lb.).”

The aircraft was completed at Superjet International’s headquarters in Venice. That company, 51% owned by Alenia Aermacchi and 49% by Sukhoi, is responsible for supporting the SSJ100 in the West.

Interjet’s fleet will be supported through SuperJet International’s SuperCare “per-flight-hour” program, a tailored after-sales solution. A spares warehouse is being set up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to cater to Interjet and to future customers in the region.

“We are setting up a lot of logistics infrastructure,” says Cauceglia. The U.S. warehouse and another in Frankfurt will be managed by Lufthansa Technik. A warehouse for Eastern customers has been set up in Russia.