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Aeroflot and Sukhoi are close to signing a $1-billion contract for the delivery of 50 Russian Regional Jets
Aeroflot is to phase out most of its Tupolev Tu-134 and Tu-154 medium-range passenger airliners, which accounted for 30% of its air fleet in 2005-2006. Aeroflot announced the tender for the delivery of 50 RRJ planes last year and Brazil's Embraer and Bombardier of Canada, as well as Project-3000, Ilyushin Finance and Sukhoi Civilian Aircraft of Russia, are expected to bid. The latter three are offering the Tu-334 airliner, the Antonov An-148 plane and the RRJ. In April, the Aeroflot board ordered its managers to choose one supplier. On June 14, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft General Director Viktor Subbotin announced preparations to sign the entire contract at the Le Bourget aerospace show. A source said the document was to have been signed there June 15, but said the sides did not agree on all the terms. Sergei Orlov, an expert with RBS consulting, estimates this deal at more than $1 billion. Other experts say the contract will help boost business for Sukhoi. "The deal will attract new RRJ customers and creditors," Konstantin Makiyenko from the Center for Analyzing Strategies and Technologies said. Officials view the RRJ as a top-priority federal project. "The An-148 has the same parameters as the RRJ. But Russia will continue to implement the entire RRJ project, possibly exporting these planes," Valery Voskoboinikov, deputy director of the Industry and Energy Ministry's military-industrial sector department, said. Aeroflot may also profit from the Sukhoi contract. RRJ batch production will only commence in 2008. Aeroflot therefore has three years to lobby additional airliner-import privileges. Aeroflot and four other airlines are now drafting similar proposals for the Transport Ministry. A ministerial spokesman noted that his department also wanted to reduce import duties. The 75-seater RRJ planes will be produced in Novosibirsk. Komsomolsk-on-Amur will be assembling the 95-seater versions. A prototype RRJ is to make its maiden flight in 2006.
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