Aeroflot to switch lessors under revised 737 plan

Moscow
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Aeroflot management is to convene an extraordinary shareholder meeting to seek endorsement for changes to its plan to lease 50 new Boeing 737s.

The Russian airline, 51% owned by the government, has submitted an appropriate request to the federal property agency, and says it is looking to start taking delivery of 737s in -700, -800 and -900ER variants before 2014, with the first portion to comprise three jets.

But these aircraft will be operated by the carrier itself, rather than by its regional affiliates as was planned initially, says Aeroflot.

The $3.5 billion deal was concluded in 2011 between Aeroflot and Aviacapital Service, an in-house leasing subsidiary of industrial conglomerate Rostec.

Earlier this year Aviacapital Service entered negotiations with Vneshtorgbank about ceding purchase rights for the entire Boeing 737 batch - apparently after failing to secure expected backing from the US Export-Import Bank.

While Vneshtorgbank declines to comment, a source at Rostec says the two sides have reached an agreement in principle. "But final decision will depend on the approval by Aeroflot shareholder meeting," he adds.