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Volga-Dnepr pushes for 787 transport work

Flight International online news 13:57GMT: Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Group is looking at landing a $1 billion contract with Boeing to transport outsize parts for the manufacture of the 787 aircraft family.

Antonov

The terms of the contract are due to be discussed during a forthcoming visit by Russia’s industry and energy minister Viktor Khristenko to the USA.   “They tentatively envisage a 10-year agreement, valued at $1-1.2 billion,” says a ministry spokesman. “In this way, Volga-Dnepr could act as Boeing’s designated freight agent with airlift capacity readily available for shipping components, such as wings or engines, from suppliers to the aircraft assembly site.” Volga-Dnepr vice-president Sergei Shklyanik suggests that the 787 production programme will require “a new approach” to arranging logistics. “We want to participate in this job on a regular basis,” he says. “We have extensive experience of transporting special and outsize freight worldwide with just-in-time delivery.” Using its 10-strong fleet of Antonov An-124 freighters, the airline already provides customised cargo services for companies such as Lockheed-Martin, British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil and Alcatel Aerospace. It is frequently called upon to move the large turbofans produced by Rolls-Royce and General Electric for the Boeing 777. The other Russian heavy-lift specialist Polet, which operates eight An-124s, says it will not bid for a contract from Boeing, saying it has sufficient workload. Shklyanik says Volga-Dnepr hopes to sign a letter of intent with the US manufacturer, which, in his words, will have the final say. The deal would help raise capital for the ambitious Volga-Dnepr-led project to resume assembly of An-124s at Russia’s aircraft factory Aviastar. Plans are now in process to pull together up to $1.5 billion in debt and equity financing.

“Clinching a deal with Boeing will certainly help Volga-Dnepr build credibility,” says an executive at one of its creditors Vneshtorgbank. “Cashflow from long-term contracts with solid customers is a major factor in winning investor confidence.”

TOM ZAITSEV/MOSCOW
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