MAKS: Transaero tentatively signs for A320neo

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Russian carrier Transaero is planning to break from its traditional preference for Boeing aircraft with an order for Airbus A320neos.

The Moscow-based airline disclosed a memorandum of understanding for eight of the type at the MAKS Moscow air show.

Transaero has an all-Boeing fleet apart from a couple of Tupolev Tu-214s, the legacy of a deal for 10 which the carrier eventually abandoned.

The tentative A320neo order, if firmed, would make Transaero the launch customer for the type in Russia.

It has not made an engine selection between the CFM International Leap and the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G.

transaero 737,

"Operation of these new, very efficient aircraft will allow us to create optimal conditions for passengers on the expanding network of domestic and international destinations," said Transaero chief executive Olga Pleshakova.

Transaero is not entirely unfamiliar with Airbus aircraft, having previously operated the A310.

But the airline has been a long-term user of Boeing types, including the 737, 767, 747 and 777.

Crucially, the carrier has used the modern-variant 737 for short- and medium-haul services, and the decision to adopt the A320neo is an interesting change of strategy.

"Anyone who's flying the 737NG that goes onto the [A320neo] is obviously important," Airbus's executive vice-president for Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Christopher Buckley, told Flightglobal at MAKS.

While it has secured orders from Aeroflot, much of Airbus's presence in Russia has been generated through leasing.

"Whether they be used or [taken] from leasing companies, we've worked hard to have an operator base in Russia," said Buckley. "Presence is as important as market share."

He pointed out that new operators of Airbus aircraft are emerging in Russia, the most recent examples including former all-737 carrier SkyExpress and Tatarstan Airlines. "Every aircraft counts," he said.