Russian airplane industry lags behind national demand

Russia's aviation industry is unable to meet the demands of Russia's airline companies, Valery Okulov, general director of Aeroflot Russian Airlines, said today at a roundtable discussion on Russia's air-freight problems, as reported by a correspondent for Rosbalt.

Okulov said the airline companies seek to keep their costs as low as possible and their fleets as large as possible but that Russia's airplane industry is unable to produce the number of planes that the lines need. Okulov noted that 'Russia's air-freight haulers want to use Russian-made planes and even collaborate with Russian producers and licensees.' But he added: 'For the healthy development of the industry, however, airlines must have the right to choose the fleet of planes that suits them best in economic and market terms. Thus, for the time being, Aeroflot continues to buy Boeing and Airbus planes.'

He said Russia needs a plan for the development of civil aviation that will allow for a balanced use of Russian- and foreign-made craft. Aeroflot's general director said the company plans, by 2010, to go over to using four types of aircraft and to have increased its fleet of planes to 120-130 craft. At the same time, the number of passengers carried by the airline is expected to rise from 5.8 million in 2003 to 12.3 million by 2010. Okulov also said it was most unlikely that Russia would see so-called 'low-cost' airlines any time soon. Low-cost airlines reduce their services and other costs in order to offer the lowest possible ticket prices. 'Russian companies already keep ticket prices to a minimum and still make much less per passenger than Western companies,' Okulov affirmed.

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