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Aeroflot decides to buy Airbus for long-haul fleet
Aeroflot indicated yesterday it would award a multi-billion dollar contract to replace its long-haul fleet to European-owned Airbus rather than Boeing of the US.
The Russian flag carrier said it expected to sign within weeks a firm contract to buy 22 Airbus A350 wide-body jets.
The decision, though anticipated for some months, will come as a blow to Boeing, which last year appeared close to clinching a deal to sell Aeroflot 22 of its 787 Dreamliners.
Valery Okulov, Aeroflot's chief executive, told a news conference delivery of the A350 models would begin in 2015. In the meantime, Aeroflot would buy Airbus A330 jets under an operating lease agreement, with delivery beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008.
"Our documents for buying the Airbuses are in a fairly high state of readiness. The deal will be done in the next few weeks," Mr Okulov said. "Yes, we're signing for 22, and it's a firm contract."
Boeing was thought to be ahead in the long-running competition to supply Aeroflot. But after Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, made a speech in Vilnius last May attacking Russia's democratic record, suggestions emerged in the Russian media that Moscow might retaliate in part by choosing Airbus jets for Aeroflot.
Aeroflot is chaired by Viktor Ivanov, aide to President Vladimir Putin, which is seen as giving the Kremlin influence over the airline.
Source: http://www.ft.com/ March 16 2007 02:00
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