While the first-ever appearance of Sukhoi’s T-50 stealth fighter led the list of awe-inspiring spectacles during last week’s Moscow Air Show, the mundane business of commercial transactions made more headlines, as Airbus, Bombardier and local manufacturers busily collected new orders from a growing Russian commercial aviation market. Perhaps the most surprising deal of all involved Moscow-based Transaero, which signed for eight Airbus A320neos.
Now operating 66 Boeing-made products and three Tupolev Tu-214s, Transaero also plans to take 20 of “today’s A320s” from leasing companies and then replace its 737 fleet with Airbus narrowbodies in the 2018-2020 time frame, according to Airbus executive vice president Chris Buckley. Another unexpected development came in the form of an MOU covering as many as 30 Bombardier C Series narrowbodies signed by Russia’s largest lessor, Ilyushin Finance (IFC). The deal marked IFC’s first business with a Western supplier. IFC also placed six Antonov An-158 regional jets with Cubana and finalized an earlier agreement with Irkut for 28 MS-21s. Aviacapital-Service, a leasing arm of Russian Technologies, added to the MS-21’s show success when it placed a firm order for 35 MS-21-300s and 15 MS-21-200s, all due for delivery between 2017 and 2022. Meanwhile, Gazprom Komplekt, acting on behalf of the Russian fossil-fuel giant, confirmed an order for 10 Sukhoi SSJ100-95LRs. More business came Sukhoi’s way when Indonesia’s PT Sky Aviation bought 12 SSJ100-95Bs worth some $379 million. Finally, VEB Leasing, a leasing arm of one of the Kremlin’s cornerstone financial institutions, agreed to finance the purchase of 24 SSJ100s by UTair, while Aviotech of India declared its intention to order 10 airplanes and reserve options on 10 more in VIP configuration.
Russia’s Polet Airlines signed a preliminary agreement for 15 Antonov An-124 Ruslans, becoming the second commercial customer for the superheavy ramp freighters, due for production restart at Aviastar in Ulianovsk. During the show Aeroflot leaked word of negotiations with Russia’s United Aircraft on the purchase of 12 Antonov An-148 regional jets by year-end. The deal would help Aeroflot general director Vitaly Saveliev fulfill his promise to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to buy more indigenous jets. Putin flew into the MAKS site onboard an Il-96-300VIP quad-jet, four of which Russia’s VASO has started assembling along with two An-148VIPs under governmental orders, according to the plant’s general director, Vitaly Zubarev. Putin appeared at MS-21 and SSJ100 signing ceremonies, underscoring his interest in the success of his “buy Russian” campaign.