Aeroflot Russian International Airlines has signed an agreement with Ilyushin's finance arm to take delivery of six Ilyushin Il-96-300s on lease.

Production of the 240-seat Il-96-300, powered by the Aviadvigatel PS-90A, has been running at a trickle at the VASO Voronezh plant, where unfinished aircraft have been stockpiled.

Aeroflot's agreement will see Ilyushin fund the completion of six Il-96-300s in storage at VASO.

To ready the aircraft for service, new engines and systems must be installed, including equipment such as the in-flight entertainment system and some avionics, which will have to be imported.

One of Aeroflot's in-service Il-96-300s will be handed over to Ilyushin Finance, refurbished and returned to the airline through a leasing agreement. Under the new deal, the first new aircraft will be redelivered to the airline in 2001.

Two key conditions must be met. Ilyushin Finance has to gain customs tariff waivers for imported components and financial guarantees must be secured from the Russian Government for the investors to finance the deal.

Alexander Rubtsov, Ilyushin Finance's general manager, who is also deputy board chairman of the National Reserve Bank, has told the Vremya MN newspaper that the agreement cannot be fulfilled without state guarantees.

Aeroflot and Ilyushin Finance have been negotiating the deal for several months, finally reaching a compromise on the delicate issue of leasing payments. Bank credit resources in Russia are much more costly than elsewhere, and Rubtsov says his company offered leasing rates "higher than on the world market, but lower than other Russian institutions offer".

Source: Flight International