Russia's Ilyushin Finance has ordered 20 Antonov An-158s, becoming the first customer for the twinjet, which is a stretch of the An-148.

The deal, which is worth over $500 million, is for 10 firm orders and 10 options. "We are in negotiation with different partners in different countries and in the near future we will firm packages of orders for this aircraft," says Alexander Rubtsov, director general of Ilyushin Finance.

By the end of the year, when the 99-seater is due to be certificated, Rubtsov expects to have 60 orders from airlines for the An-158, with the customers coming from Russia, Latin America and Asia.

Ilyushin Finance also has 130 firm orders for the smaller 68- to 85-seat An-148, says Rubtsov. The company regularly acquires aircraft from the Ukrainian manufacturer.

"We have been working with this partner for many years," says Dmytro Kiva, president general designer of Antonov. "It promotes us on the world market and we suppose this partner is very reliable," joked Kiva.

Source: Flight Daily News