Shortage of domestic-built aircraft, Chapter 3 noise requirements and cheaper leasing lead airlines to look to West

A group of Russian airlines led by Aeroflot is lobbying the Russian government for reduced import taxes to enable them to acquire Western-built airliners.

As Russian traffic levels increase for the summer season, demand for Western aircraft has been fuelled by a combination of lower lease rates following 11 September, a shortage of suitable Russian-built aircraft and the need to upgrade to Chapter 3-compliant types. Aeroflot, which wants to replace its 27 Airbus and Boeing aircraft with aircraft leases, is taking the lead in efforts to reduce the level of import taxes from the current 44% (including duty and value added tax) to no more than 5%.

Aeroflot wants up to 16 medium-range aircraft in the Boeing Next Generation (NG) 737/Airbus A320- class category, as well as 11 long- range twinjets - expected to be Boeing 767-300ERs (Flight International, 16-22 April).

The airline is also replacing most of its Ilyushin Il-76 freighters with four McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40Fs, and has a requirement for regional jets.

Pulkovo Aviation has purchased two ex-Chinese Tupolev Tu-154Ms, to meet its short-term needs. Sibir (Siberia Airlines) is seeking up to four 737 Classics for later upgrade to NGs for operation on its European and Chinese services.

Kras Air's chief executive expects to have several Western aircraft in service by the end of the year. These will include 737s or A320s, plus a possible long-range freighter.

TyumenAviaTrans and Sakhalin Avia Trassi (SAT) are seeking Bombardier Dash 8s for regional services to replace ageing Antonov turboprops, while SAT also wants 737 Classics to supplement its existing 737-200 on services to Japan and Korea. Three other Russian airlines - Aeroflot Don (the former Donavia), Enkor and Transaero - are seeking 737 Classics, while East Line wants a DC-10 freighter.

All the airlines are awaiting a reduction in taxes before committing to these deals, and there are some signs that the government is considering a move to ease the financial burden as Russian industry is unable to meet demand.

Source: Flight International