. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aviastar to Sell Airplanes to Iran

Iran has agreed in principle to purchase up to 25 mid-range Tupolev Tu-204 passenger jets from Aviastar-SP, owner of Europe's largest aircraft plant, the Ulyanovsk-based company said Monday.

Iranian civil aviation authorities signed a preliminary agreement in Moscow last week to buy five Tu-204-100s, with an option for 20 more, the chief designer of the aircraft, Lev Lanovsky, said by telephone Monday.

Lanovsky said deliveries could begin by the end of 2005 once the deal is finalized.

The board of state-controlled Aviastar, which is 25 percent minus one share owned by Egypt's Sirocco, will meet next week to approve the deal, as well as the plant's overall development strategy, Aviastar spokeswoman Lyubov Gruzintseva said by telephone.

She said the airplanes ordered by Tehran will be built from scratch.

Lanovsky said the deal with Iran, which has been looking to replace its fleet of leased and owned Tu-154s with the Tu-204 for years, would provide Aviastar with a much-needed cash injection.

Neither he nor Gruzintseva would put a price tag on the deal, but analysts said the Tu-204-100 retails for about $20 million.

Aviastar has a capacity to roll out 60 aircraft per year, but the company delivered just two Tu-204s to domestic airlines last year.

It is currently building two Tupolevs for Far East airline Vladivostokavia and assembling two giant Antonov An-124s cargo carriers, called Ruslan, for Volga-Dnepr and Polyot. It is also building five cargo versions of its Tu-204-120, which is powered by two Rolls-Royce engines, for China. The Tu-204-100s come with Russian-built engines.

Gruzintseva said the first two aircraft are supposed to be delivered by the end of this year, but an Aviastar official said that work had been slowed by a "lack of serious financing" from Sirocco Aerospace International, the Egyptian company that has exclusive rights to the craft and signed the deal with China in 2001.

However, Boris Zenkov, the head of Sirocco in Moscow, said Aviastar has until the end of 2005 to deliver the five craft to China, and that work is on schedule. The Chinese have an option to buy an additional 10 planes, he added.