SAINT PETERSBURG — Russia’s second-largest airline Transaero signed a $1.7 billion deal Thursday to buy four Airbus A380 jets, becoming the first ex-Soviet region carrier to order the world’s biggest passenger jet.
Transaero’s general director Olga Pleshakova and Airbus Executive Vice-President Europe, Christopher Buckley, signed purchase agreement on the first day of the annual Saint Petersburg Economic Forum.
“It is a historic moment for Airbus and this is the first contract in Russia and the CIS for the A380,” Buckley told journalists at the signing, referring to the Commonwealth of Independent States, an alliance of ex-Soviet states.
The A380, which entered service in 2007, is the world’s biggest passenger jet and a key product in Airbus’s line-up as it battles its main rival, US giant Boeing, for the top spot in the world civil airliner industry.
The order is the first from an airline in Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe and brings the total number of orders for the aircraft to 257 from 20 customers, Airbus said in a statement on its website. So far Airbus has delivered 77 of the planes.
Transaero has until now almost exclusively used Boeing jets, but recently made a shift towards France-based Airbus, which is owned by European aerospace giant EADS.
In December it signed a firm order with Airbus to buy eight smaller A320neo planes with the option of acquiring four more jets.
The A380 jets are due to be delivered starting in 2015 and are set to be used for longhaul flights between Moscow and southeastern Asia and the Caribbean region, Transaero’s Pleshakova said. — AFP