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Sun, Jun 10, 2007

Aeroflot Signs For 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners

Is The New 'Cold War' Thawing A Bit?

Frankly, we still can't believe it. On Saturday, Russia's Aeroflot confirmed rumors that, following an extremely protracted decision-making process, the flag carrier for the former Soviet Union has ordered 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

For real this time. With signatures and everything.

As ANN reported last week -- when news first surfaced Aeroflot would order the 787s after all -- a previous order was abandoned earlier this year, at least partly due to the increasingly chilly political relationship between the US and Russia. Aeroflot later signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 22 A350 XWBs, the Dreamliner's main competitor.

Analysts were quick to point out Saturday's signing of the 22-plane order by Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson and Aeroflot chief Valery Okulov could mark the start of easing tensions between the US and Russia. That relationship may also have relaxed ever-so-slightly this week, with a tentative agreement between the US and Russia to consider the latter's offer of use of a radar station in Azerbaijan for a proposed US missile shield over Europe.

Carson was coy when asked of the order's potential significance on the global stage. "It represents a business relationship between us and Aeroflot, and we're very proud of that relationship," Carson told reporters, according to The Associted Press.

In a separate statement to ANN, the American planemaker added it was "very pleased that Aeroflot has selected the 787 Dreamliner for its fleet requirements."

The order was signed on the first day of an economic forum in St. Petersburg.

In related news, Boeing also announced Saturday an agreement to expand the planemaker's role in development of Russia's Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet program. The expanded role -- under which Boeing agrees to provide pilot and maintenance training on the upcoming RJ, and spare parts management -- was rumored to be connected of the Dreamliner order.

"This is an excellent example of Boeing's long-term commitment to cooperation with Russian industry," said Scott Carson, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Our work with Sukhoi on the Superjet 100 is a great opportunity to expand our 'working together' relationship."

And, quite possibly, a great opportunity to sell a few more Boeing airplanes in Russia, as well.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.aeroflot.com, www.sukhoi.superjet100.com/en/

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