Dr Ibrahim Kamel, owner of Tupolev Tu-204 leasing company Sirocco Aerospace, has resolved his disagreement with Russian authorities over shareholdings in Tupolev and the Aviastar plant, and agreed an order for 25 Rolls-Royce RB211-535E4-powered Tu-204-120s.

Earlier this year, Kamel agreed an "investment-for-shares" deal which would involve the Egyptian entrepreneur investing a total of $280 million in the construction of Tu-204s at the Aviastar factory in Ulyanovsk over the next three years, in exchange for a 25% stake in the plant and the Tupolev design bureau.

The deal, however, was held up until the Russian federal government reassured Kamel that it would observe his rights as a shareholder and investor. Part of the hold-up was Kamel's alleged refusal to bribe Ulynovosk businessmen and bureaucrats for their loyalty and non-interference with Aviastar (Flight International, 22-28 October).

With these differences resolved, Kamel signed agreements with Russian state agency Rosaviakosmos on 13 November, including the firm order for 25 RB211-powered Tu-204-120s. Sirocco has a contract with Chinese airlines China Northwest and China Southwest for five firm Tu-204-120 orders and 20 options. This deal was signed last year but was not finalised until the Airshow China in Zhuhai in early November when Rosaviakosmos claimed it persuaded the Chinese to firm up the options.

"The Chinese customer has made the first payment and the clock is running," says Aviastar executive director Valery Savodchenko, adding that cash-flow to Aviastar to fund construction "will resume in January". The first Chinese Tu-204-120 should be delivered late next year.

Tu-204 output is due to increase from 12 a year to a rate of two aircraft a month by 2005.

Source: Flight International