The Russian and French Prime Ministers, Mikhail Kassianov and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, visited Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse, France, today, just before the opening of the 8th Franco-Russian Commission for Bilateral Co-operation Aspects held in Toulouse on 18 November.
On this occasion, two important milestones in the partnership between the Russian aviation sector and Airbus were reached, with a contract with Aeroflot for 18 A320 Family aircraft and a protocol highlighting the progress of the creation of the Moscow-based Airbus-Kaskol Engineering Centre. During their visits, Prime Ministers Kassianov and Raffarin toured Airbus’ final assembly lines as well as the cabin mock up of the A380, which will be the world’s largest and most modern passenger aircraft with 555-seats.
“We are very pleased that the links which we started eleven years ago with the Russian aviation sector, be it on the airline or on the industry side have developed into a close and mutually beneficial partnership which we are going to expand even further”, said Airbus President and CEO No‘l Forgeard. “Not only are we very honoured by Aeroflot`s decision to renew its confidence in Airbus aircraft, with an acquisition which will make Airbus its major Western-built aircraft supplier, but also keen to participate through the Airbus-Kaskol Engineering Centre to a major step in the West European and Russian aeronautical industries’ global co-operation strategy.”
Aeroflot General Director Valery Okulov said that the Russian flag carrier’s selection of the A320 Family aircraft, in the framework of Aeroflot’s fleet restructuring, came after a very thorough evaluation where it emerged as the best solution for the airline’s needs. “The medium range fleet restructuring is an ideal move in a highly competititve market, in particular because of the significantly improved operating economics of the new fleet.”
Kaskol Group President Sergei Nedoroslev stressed the quality of their partnership with Airbus which is based on mutual trust and benefits.
The 18 A320 Family airliners Aeroflot has decided to acquire include both A319s and A320s. Aeroflot will take delivery of its first Airbus single-aisle aircraft - an A319 - in the autumn of 2003, followed shortly by an A320. The Airbus A320 Family aircraft are destined to fly on Aeroflot`s European network.
Of the 18 A320 Family aircraft for Aeroflot, eight are covered by the acquisition contract signed today. Four more are covered by a separate order placed with Airbus for Aeroflot by GECAS, a major U.S. leasing company. The other six will be taken on lease by Aeroflot from GECAS.
Powered by CFM International CFM56-5 engines, Aeroflot’s A319s and A320s will feature a modern and comfortable two-class cabin layout. The A320 Family’s optimized cabin cross-section has set new standard for passenger comfort in single-aisle aircraft, allowing for wider seats and aisles as well as more capacious overhead stowage.
The world`s most profitable and best-selling Airbus A320 Family comprises the A318, A319, A320 and A321, which share the same airframe, cockpit and handling qualities. They are in widespread airline service around the world and consistently lead in independent passenger surveys.
The Engineering centre, which will be the first one Airbus establishes in Russia, will be registered as a joint venture between Airbus and Kaskol, beginning in December 2002. It will promote cross-transfer of expertise and will both co-ordinate and enlarge the scope of activities which Airbus is developing with Russian aerospace companies. The centre will work according to the most modern Airbus technologies and standards, participating both in existing and future programmes. The Airbus-Kaskol Engineering Centre will employ some 100 Russian engineers by end-2004. Thirteen of them are already in Toulouse where they are currently being trained on Airbus engineering standards and process.
In May this year, the Kaskol Group was selected by Airbus as a leading partner for the implementation of the first phase of its co-operation programme with the Russian aerospace industry. Airbus co-operation programme follows the agreement signed in July 2001 between its major shareholder EADS and the Russian Aerospace Agency in Moscow, in the presence of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and French President Jacques Chirac.
The West European aircraft manufacturer, which has currently the largest backlog of the aircraft industry in the world, with some 1,500 aircraft, and the Kaskol Group, which is one of the largest privately held holding companies in Russia, with a primary focus on the aerospace industry, are also to develop a long term programme of industrial co-operation for Airbus in Russia.
A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive Western product line, and a total order book for more than 4,550 aircraft, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain, as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. In Moscow, it has a regional office, as well as technical representation providing on-the-spot airline support. The Airbus-Kaskol Engineering Centre is scheduled to become operational in Spring 2003.
Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.