Cubana, the Cuban national airline, has agreed with Ilyushin Finance, the Russian aircraft leasing company, to take two Ilyushin Il-96-300s. The aircraft, due for delivery in late 2004 and in 2005, will establish Cubana as the first Il-96 export customer.

The order was discussed by a Russian delegation with the Cuban transport minister in November, and the airline is anxious to take two aircraft that are close to completion but intended for Aeroflot. Some Russian government funding may be sought.

Cubana has relied mainly on Soviet and Russian aircraft for the past 40 years while international sanctions have prevented it taking Western aircraft. It has used leased DC-10s, but has been seeking new-generation long-range aircraft for some time.

Source: Flight International