Russia to salvage its aircraft construction industry

Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref believes that Rosaviacosmos, a Russian aviation and space agency, lacks a clear-cut program of rescuing the Russian aircraft industry. The minister said he had the impression of "utter hopelessness" as far as the industry's anti-crisis steps were concerned. Gref is skeptical about the Rosaviacosmos management's ability to deliver on its promises to start producing Russian aircraft by 2006, which will comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) requirements. In view of this, the Economy Minister said "the government will be forced to reduce duties on foreign airplanes".

The senior official believes that the Russian aircraft industry's recovery rests with reforms. "If large holdings are not established in the industry in the near future, we will end up having no aircraft construction sector by 2006", he said. "With Russia's entry into the WTO we'll simply be engulfed by new Airbuses and Boeings". The Economy Minister was backed by Alexander Neradko, chief of the State Civil Aviation Service. The official was quoted as saying, if in 2003-2004 aviation construction companies fail to set up the production of aircraft meeting up-to-date requirements, "they will be ousted by foreign companies". According to the official, Russia's need for passenger flights will double by 2010, the Vremya Novostey newspaper reported.

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