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Airbus Signs First Russian Supply Deal

    Monday, December. 22, 2003
    The Moscow Times
    Airbus on Friday awarded Nizhny Novgorod-based Sokol a contract to supply components for its family of passenger jets, the first of several deals that are expected to open the global market to Russia's struggling aerospace industry. "With the signing of this contract we open the door for the Russian industry to participate in successful Airbus programs," Airbus chief operating officer Gustav Humbert said at a signing ceremony in Moscow.
    Humbert said Airbus plans to buy $10 million worth of Russian-made components a year, a figure that will eventually rise to $40 million. Bids for new contracts will be accepted early next year.
    Under the terms of Friday's deal, Airbus will pay $3 million for 300 sets of floor grids for the A320 family through 2008, with the first deliveries slated for November 2004.
    Although Sokol signed the contract, it will only assemble the components manufactured by privately held Irkut Corp., which makes the latest generation of Sukhoi fighters.
    "With this deal, we have just bought an entry ticket to the [global component] market," Irkut president Alexei Fyodorov said.
    The contract comes under the 2001 framework agreement signed by the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and its European counterpart EADS, the parent company of Airbus.
    Within this agreement, Airbus identified privately owned Kaskol Group as its lead partner. Kaskol's assets include Sokol and Hydromash, which makes undercarriages for airplanes.
    Kaskol president Sergei Nedoroslev said the contract signed Friday is small but significant because it is an invitation to Russian manufacturers "to participate in the production cycle of Western European industry."
    Unlike its partner in pursuing component contracts, Irkut, which has become the darling of the industry for its Western management style and aggressive reorganization program, Sokol has been slow to adapt to the new market.
    In October, a Nizhny Novgorod court ordered more than $1.8 million of Sokol's property arrested in an attempt to recover part of the company's $5.5 million debt to the local regional budget.
    Although Sokol general director Mikhail Shibayev said Friday that this dispute had been resolved, he refused give details or even talk about his company's financial status at all.
    Sokol's mainstay has been upgrading MiG fighter jets, but it recently began assembling a new combat trainer, the Yak-130, for the Russian air force.
    Both companies have been working closely with the Europeans.
    Irkut is working with EADS on marketing its Be-200 amphibious aircraft abroad, and is in talks with Eurocopter about assembling the helicopter giant's light craft in Russia.
    In June, Kaskol and Airbus opened an engineering center in Moscow where a staff of 50 engineers are working with designers in Toulouse and Hamburg on the new A340 and the 555-seat superjumbo A380.


    Lyuba Pronina
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