Transaero to lease Tu-204s as dedicated freighters

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Russian carrier Transaero has agreed with lessor Ilyushin Finance to take financial leases on a pair of Tupolev Tu-204-100C freighters.

These aircraft, numbered 64051 and 64052, had been whitetails for almost two years, during which Aviastar-Tu and then a start-up airline from Kazakhstan negotiated with IFC on terms of their operations.

Volga-Dnepr had also considered these aircraft, but failed to come to terms with the lessor.

Sources familiar with the situation say Transaero will take first aircraft by the end of this year and second in January 2013. This acquisition will mark a new milestone for the airline, as it never before operated dedicated cargo aircraft, although it already operates the Tu-214 passenger twinjet.

Its reason for acquiring the Tu-204-100C is that the jets were easily available, and have certain advantages over converted Boeing 737s and 757s in terms of payload-range and maximum payload. But the carrier also says its decision will support Russia's domestic industry.

Transaero, which is in the process of renewing its passenger fleet, says it intends to develop its cargo business further.