RSK MiG has secured the first firm orders for the Tupolev Tu-334 airliner, with Aerofraht and Atlant Soyuz Airlines each agreeing to take five 102-seat Tu-334-100sat a unit price of $12.9 million.

Deliveries to Atlant Soyuz will start in 2005, by which time RSK MiG has committed to create a support system similar to that already set up for MiG-29 fighters operating inEurope.

"We demanded that our Tu-334s be supported to very same standards as the [German air force's] MiGs," says Atlant Soyuz chairman Valery Menitsky. "Only then can a new-model Russian-built airliner be economic to operate."

The Moscow city government, which owns 51% of Atlant Soyuz, is providing financial support for the deals and is keen to maintain RSK and Tupolev jobs in the city. Atlant Soyuz says it is committed to a fleet renewal in the next few years before stricter environmental regulations are introduced at Moscow's airports.

Aerofraht general director Mikhail Miroshnichenko says: "For our airlines based in Moscow the Tu-334 is an ideal aircraft. The city generates strong passenger flows that allow us to produce an efficient timetable for high fleet utilisation." Meanwhile, Atlant Soyuz is acquiring five Antonov An-124 freighters from the Russian air force.

Source: Flight International