Aeroflot has firmed up its short-haul fleet renewal plans by signing a firm contract for the delivery of 18 Airbus A320 family aircraft directly from the manufacturer and through leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). Separately, Aeroflot is finalising deals with Western leasing companies for nine Boeing 767-300ERs.

Eight of the Airbuses have been ordered directly from Airbus and the other 10 will be leased from GECAS - four ordered by GECAS for Aeroflot, plus six already on order by GECAS. All will be powered by CFM International CFM56-5 engines. Aeroflot had previously said it would take nine A319s and nine A320s, but the split has not been specified in the new deal.

The new Airbus and Boeing aircraft will gradually replace the Russian flag carrier's 27-strong fleet of Western airliners - 11 Airbus A310s, 10 Boeing 737-400s, four 767-300ERs and two 777-200ERs - which are to be gradually phased out and returned to lessors. The first new Airbus, an A319, will be delivered next November and the new fleet will arrive at a rate of eight a year. Aeroflot general director Valery Okulov says that after completion of the fleet renewal, the airline will save $80-95 million annually on lease payments and operating costs.

Meanwhile, the planned Moscow-based design joint venture between Russia's Kaskol Group and Airbus will begin operations early next year. Talks are under way with Kaskol about the manufacture of Airbus components, and with Russian materials specialist Basic Element on a major aluminium supply contract.

Source: Flight International