Russia's East Line Rejects Western Aircraft
Dmitry Kamenshik, Chairman of the East Line Group, said at a press briefing in May that the group had rejected proposals from both Boeing and Airbus on a wide-body cargo transport plane after an assessment of their proposals.
This decision contrasts with statements earlier this year from Amiran Kurtanidze, General Director of East Line Airlines, who told the press that the freighter version of the A310 best met the requirements of the airline among available western aircraft. Speaking about the reasons for rejection, Kamenshi said western aircraft, while featuring low fuel burn and high potential utilisation rates, do not fit into the Russian "economic realities."
Those realities appear to be, according to a number of Russian cargo carriers, that the complicated and time-consuming customs procedures in Russian airports make high utilization of cargo aircraft virtually impossible. "By making simple mathematical calculations with figures given to us by the foreign aircraft producers, we came to a conclusion that foreign freighters can not be operated profitably in our market," Kamenshik said.
At the same time, the Il-76TD is readily available in numbers on the CIS market for a very low rental relative to its carrying capacity (depending on condition, an Il-76 can be acquired on operational lease terms for $500-800 per flight hour). Rental payments are often based not on calendar periods as in the West, but on flight time, which is more appropriate for the Russian market with its low turnover rates.
Kamenshik says he is currently happy with the performance of East Line's Il-76TD fleet, the largest in the CIS (some thirty airframes either owned or leased from other operators). He added, "We have made our choice on the future freighter fleet: We'll fund completion of Il-76s and Il-96-300R freighter that are in a high degree of readiness at the factories in Tashkent and Voronezh."
Ilyushin held an official presentation of these types to East Line in the middle of May. Lifetime resources of the Il-76TD fleet is said to be sufficient for another three years, after which new types should be available (Il-76TF and Il-96-300R are expected to enter active service in 2001-2002).
The current share of cargo operations of the East Line Group's total revenue is "lower than 40%," Kamenshik commented when discussing this, but without confirming that the private group's turnover exceeded $1.5 billion.
From ConCISe Aerospace (http://www.concise.org