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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aeroflot, Airbus Sign Deal for 18 Planes

ReutersFrench Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin handing Kasyanov a model of the A320 after signing the deal in Toulouse on Monday.
TOULOUSE, France -- With the prime ministers of France and Russia looking on, officials of Aeroflot and Airbus signed a contract Monday for the purchase of 18 Airbus passenger planes worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The deal for the A319 and A320 medium-range planes was first unveiled in July during a visit by President Jacques Chirac to Moscow, and delivery of the first plane was expected in the fall of 2003, Airbus said.

No price tag was put on the deal, but when first announced in Moscow it was valued at $600 million.

The signing ceremony capped a visit to Toulouse, Airbus' headquarters, by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The leaders also attended the signing of a protocol for the creation of a Moscow-based engineering center with Airbus to open in December.

Airbus called the two events "important milestones in the partnership between the Russian aviation sector and Airbus."

"We are very pleased that the links that we started 11 years ago with the Russian aviation sector ... have developed into a close and mutually beneficial partnership," Airbus president Noel Forgeard said in a statement.

Before the signing ceremonies, the two prime ministers visited an Airbus assembly line and a cabin mockup of the A380, the 555-seat super-jumbo plane planned by Airbus.

Airbus, Boeing and Russian aircraft makers had long been lobbying Aeroflot to modernize its fleet with their planes.

Kasyanov met with Chirac on Sunday for talks focused on Russian-French cooperation in space and aeronautics.

At the meeting, the men were to discuss using the Soyuz rocket for commercial satellite launches from a French launchpad in Guyana, as well as TotalFinaElf's participation in the Shtokmanovsky oil and gas field in the Arctic, Interfax reported.

(AP, MT)