RUSSIAN AIRLINES TO BUY UP TU 204 JUMBOS

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MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian-based airlines intend to purchase 29 TU 204 jumbo jets within the next four years, announced the federal Transport Ministry press service.

Russian companies acquired seven TU 204s, 2002-03, to lease six and buy one on credit. Another four liners will come up next year, and 25 before the end of 2008.

Igor Levitin, Transport Minister, is on a routine trip to Ulyanovsk, major industrial seat in the middle reaches of the Volga. Today, he visited the Aviastar SP joint-stock company, TU 204 manufacturer, to see its workshops and meet company management.

Russian airlines are updating their planes and helicopters, and TU 204s are among preferential makes. They account for more than 40 per cent of latest-generation long-distance craft Russian air companies possess, says the ministry.

To cope with their blueprinted amount of transportation, Russian-based companies will need 615 cutting-edge liners for long-distance and regional flights plus 350 helicopters of various classes before 2010, estimate ministerial experts.

The ministry calls to put off from 2007 a deadline after which government support of Russian-manufactured aircraft leasing will stop.

Arranged on an acting government decree, this support envisages federal allocations to airlines to partly reimburse their lease payments and loan interest. Such annual allocations of 2002-07 are at a ceiling 500 million rubles, roughly $20 million.

The Ministries of Transport, Finance, and Economic Development and Trade have jointly drafted initiatives to amend the decree. The draft will soon be offered to the Cabinet. It envisages an opportunity to prolong the partial reimbursement pattern to fifteen years, the longest term of related leasing and loaning contracts, reports the ministry.

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