Russia To Axe Component Import Duty

The Russian government is expected this week to cancel high customs duties on imported components for all foreign aircraft types in a bid to ease a severe capacity shortage. An ad hoc joint advisory panel, representing the ministries of transport and economic development, has recommended introducing a blanket tax-free regime for purchases of material for repairing Western-built equipment, potentially cutting maintenance costs by 20%. In 2007, the government halved customs duties on passenger aircraft with cabin capacity below 19 seats and eliminated them for those accommodating more than 300 passengers, until the end of this year.

Oxford Aviation Acquires Crew Supplier Parc

UK pilot training organisation Oxford Aviation Academy has acquired Dublin-based flightcrew supplier Parc Aviation through an agreement backed by Oxford's majority owner, Star Capital Partners. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The acquisition expands Oxford Aviation Academy's crew supply capabilities following its consolidation of 10 pilot-training centres previously operated by BAE Systems, GCAT Flight Academy and Oxford Aviation Training. Parc claims to be the largest supplier of leased flightcrew to carriers, with 450 pilots on contract airlines in more than 20 countries. The Parc name will be retained and the business will continue to be led by chief executive Tim Shattock.

Alitalia Loses State Aid Challenge

European judges have thrown out a challenge by Italian national carrier Alitalia relating to the authorisation of capital injections for the 1996-2000 period as state aid. The case dates back to a 2,750 billion lira capital injection - around $1.3 billion at the time of its 2001 appeal - from its then majority shareholder the Italian state finance company for the period. The European Court of First Instance dismissed Alitalia's action and confirmed a 2001 European Commission decision on the aid. Alitalia has two months to appeal against the decision, limited to points of law only. The move comes as the EC is once again probing potential state aid measures at Alitalia, after launching an investigation into the recent granting by Italy of a €300 million ($471 million) bridging loan.

ATR Increases 2008 Turnover Forecast

Turboprop manufacturer ATR has increased its full-year turnover forecast to around $1.4 billion as it seeks to exceed a programme total of 1,000 orders this year. ATR was expecting to generate a $1.2 billion turnover this year, but this rose to more than $1.3 billion in January after it posted a $1.1 billion turnover for 2007 on the back of a turboprop market revival. ATR manufactured 15 aircraft in 2005, 24 in 2006, 44 last year and is aiming to deliver over 60 this year. Mayer says ATR is planning to deliver a minimum of 75 in 2009. Production will then stabilise at 80 in 2010-11, increasing to around 85 in 2012.

Aircell Funding Grows to $265m

IFE Aircell, provider of the Gogo in-flight broadband service, has closed a $35 million senior secured term loan facility, representing the third tranche of a package of equity and debt financing now totalling $265 million and earmarked for working and investment capital funding. The transaction rounds out a previous two-stage equity investment led by private equity group Ripplewood Holdings. Gogo will launch initially on American Airlines and Virgin America, with other airlines expected to follow in the coming months.

Source: Flight International