Aviastar's future has been thrown into doubt following a financial row between Tupolev and one of the plant's principal investors. Novoye Sodruzhestva (New Commonwealth) has filed a suit with an arbitration court in Rostov, Russia, for the repayment of the money that it invested in the Aviastar aircraft factory between April and July this year.

The holding company put the funding into the operation as part of a deal that would give it control of the plant within two years, under an agreement signed with Tupolev in April. The deal has been dogged by disagreement over the transfer of control and subsequently the level of interest payments on loans made to the factory.

Tupolev says it is willing to pay back the investment, but disputes the level of interest on the payments. Mikhail Mirimsky, an advisor to the region's governor, says Tupolev plans to pay back at least the principal sum by mid-November.

According to the conditions of the agreement, Novoye Sodruzhestva was to invest 2 billion roubles ($64 million) in production facilities and receive a 26% stake in the Ulyansk-based factory in exchange. The investor has put about 250 million roubles into the factory but had received no shares as of 3 October.

Aviastar, which is best known as the builder of Rolls-Royce RB211-powered Tupolev Tu-204s, is already in a parlous financial position. The company is yet to pay its employees wages for September, and still owes 14 million roubles for last year's heating bills, with winter approaching.

As a result, the company is desperate to attract a new investor. One potential investor is Egyptian company Sirocco Aerospace, the exclusive exporter of the R-R powered Tu-204.

Sirocco is in the process of selling a number of aircraft to China. However "Sirocco is not yet ready to become a strategic investor in the Ulyanovsk plant," says the company.


Source: Flight International