Transaero has signed an agreement with the Ilyushin-Finance leasing company for the 15-year lease of four Tupolev Tu-204-300s. The contract is valued at $100 million.

The contract was signed at MAKS 2003, which also saw the public debut of the first production Tu-204-300 assembled at the Aviastar factory in Ulyanovsk. Transaero also signed an option for 20 Tupolev Tu-234s.

Transaero has an all-Boeing fleet, but signed a preliminary agreement with the lessor for 10 Tu-204s in 1999. Subsequent negotiations have been lengthy due to the embryonic state of the aircraft leasing business in Russia.

Transaero's interest in the Tu-204 grew following Aviastar's completion of the first series production Tu-204-300. This variant has a shorter, 160-seat fuselage but a longer range than the standard -100.

"This is the aircraft we have waited for. We worked with Ilyushin-Finance, Aviastar and Tupolev to determine its main features so that it suits our routes," the airline says.

Transaero will receive four Tu-204-300s between the end of next year and mid-2005. Six more aircraft would be added in 2006-7.

Meanwhile, Omsk Airlines has ordered four Tu-214s worth Rb4 billion ($132 million)from the KAPO factory in Kazan. TheTu-214 is a higher-weight, longer-range version of the Tu-204. Deliveries are scheduled for 2005 and 2006.

KAPO's backlog comprises two Tu-214s for the government airline GTK Rossiya, two for the Russian defence ministry and one for Dalavia.

Source: Flight International