VARZ-400 in jv talks with potential Western partners

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Russian maintenance specialist VARZ-400 is seeking to capture new business opportunities by securing co-operation with a Western partner, and is in talks with several companies.

Vnukovo-Invest chief Vitaly Vantsev said it had initiated joint venture negotiations with aviation services provider AAR, SR Technics and a Canadian firm, which he declined to disclose.

"We want to finalise these talks by the year-end," he said, adding that VARZ is looking for a partner to jointly carry out maintenance work on Western-built models.

"The plant primarily serves Vnukovo-based airlines. They have almost entirely phased out ageing domestic aircraft and switched to leased foreign equipment but need to ferry it abroad for technical support."

VARZ originally entered into exclusive negotiations with AAR. As its commitments expired, the management also started talking to other firms.

To realign its business in response to customers' changing needs, VARZ has obtained approval to conduct heavy checks on Boeing 737s and line maintenance for Airbus A320 family aircraft.

The enterprise is also certified to refurbish cabin interiors and repair particular navigation and communication devices, emergency escape equipment, batteries and landing gear.

Business development director Olga Sokolova said the next task on hand is to gain more competencies, such as transit checks for Sukhoi Superjet 100s and component repair on widebody Western types.

"We'll continue catering to Vnukovo tenants but are keen to expand our client base by serving those based at Sheremetyevo, including Aeroflot," she said, referring to government-backed plans to merge the two airports into a single complex.

VARZ-400, which is affiliated with Vnukovo airport through common owner Vnukovo-Invest, is Russia's oldest and largest designated MRO facility.