Dalavia, a former Aeroflot division based in the Pacific coastal city of Khabarovsk, has placed orders with Tupolev and the Kazan Aircraft Production Factory (KAPO) for two Tu-214 twinjets.

The airline operates an ageing fleet of Ilyushin Il-62s and its principal route is the 9,000km (4,900nm) link between Khabarovsk and Moscow. For this reason, it requires the higher take- off weight Tu-214 version of the Aviadvigatel-powered Tu-204 family. Dalavia plans to take its first Tu-214 in December and the second in January.

Tupolev sources indicate that the Tu-214 could operate the Moscow route non-stop, but with a payload limited by around 40 seats - to 150-160 passengers. This is less than the 168-seat all-economy accommodation of the Il-62.

The Tatarstan Government, anxious to see its aviation industry thrive, has shown its willingness to advance "credits" (ie, loans) for the deal, and the Khabarovsk regional government has also promised support. Russia's Pacific coast is heavily populated and the only alternative for travel to Moscow is a seven-day rail journey.

Meanwhile, the Krasnoyarsk, central Siberian carrier Kras Air will receive its first Tu-204 this month after a four-year effort to acquire the type. The aircraft is ready for delivery at the Aviastar factory in Ulyanovsk and is one of two due to be handed over to customers this month. The other is the fourth for Air Cairo, which will go immediately on lease to EgyptAir.

Funding the order has been difficult for Kras Air, but the new management appointed by Governor Alexander Lebed last year has turned the airline's finances around and achieved a 28% growth in traffic last year. Another Russian carrier, Riga- based Ilyushin Il-76 operator Inversiya, is negotiating with Tupolev for the acquisition of three Tu-204C freighters, as well as several passenger models.

Source: Flight International