Cessna is hoping that recent sales breakthroughs in Russia with its Grand Caravan turboprop and Skylane 172 piston singles will prove to be a sound foundation for selling more of its Citation business jets there. According to Kriya Short, the U.S. manufacturer’s sales vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, it has seen “rejuvenated interest” in the past year or so from a Russian market that “has not been unscathed” by the economic downturn.
Some of this interest, in her view, has been driven by a more pragmatic attitude towards using small- and medium-sized aircraft in a market that has generally shown a preference for large equipment. Proof of this theory can be seen in the Citation Mustang that Cessna sold to a Russian client and in the new XLS+ model it is about to deliver to another.
At this week’s Jet Expo show in Moscow, the airframer is displaying a Citation Sovereign. “More interest is now being shown in midsized aircraft like these [the Sovereign and the XLS+] and the CJs [CitationJets] are also now being seen as a more interesting solution [in Russia],” Short told AIN.
Cessna stands to benefit from changes in Russia’s import tax rules, which remove duty on foreign-made aircraft weighing between 2 and 20 metric tons (4,400 to 44,000 pounds). It is now hoping that today’s Caravan customer could become tomorrow’s Citation owner, with Pana Poulios recently appointed as regional sales director for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States in a bid to make this happen. The company intends to permanently base a sales assistant in Russia within the next 12 months.
Back in March, Russian leasing group Gosudarstvennaya Transportnaya Lizingovaya Kompaniya ordered 15 Grand Caravans, with seven to be delivered before the end of 2012 and the rest next year. The state-owned company will lease the aircraft, equipped in commuter configuration, to local operators throughout Russia as part of an effort to boost local air service.