June / July, 2023


Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has reportedly been thrown out of Chinese manufacturer COMAC’s wide-body aircraft development program. The latest project demonstrations, which took place during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, omitted all mention of UAC as well as the collaboration’s working name – CR929. The project is now simply being referred to as ‘long-haul wide-body aircraft’ by COMAC. The Air Current, an English-language aviation news website, has reported that a source close to COMAC confirmed that UAC had been removed from the project. In Russia, the UAC’s General Director, Yuri Slyusar, has said that a long-haul variant of the Russian Irkut MC-21 is being considered. The MC-21’s current maximum flight range of just over 5,000 kilometres would not be sufficient for operating flights to Russia’s Far East; the proposed long-haul variant could serve a crucial role in Russia’s domestic aviation industry once Russian airlines deplete their Western fleets.

Russia’s biennial International Aviation and Space Show (MAKS), due to take place this year, has been postponed until 2024. According to sources within the Russian aviation industry, the show was ostensibly cancelled due to security concerns, including potential threats from third party drones to the shows. Alternative media reports suggest that the postponement may actually be due to sanctions, issues relating to import substitution, and the non-participation of foreign companies in the event. According to organisers, the event is now scheduled to take place in both 2024 and 2025.

The Aeroflot Group has returned to Cuba through its subsidiary Rossiya Airlines, which has operated flights to Havana since February 2022. Initially, flights are scheduled twice a week, with scope for a possible expansion dependent on demand. The decision to resume regular flights follows a meeting of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission in May 2023. Meanwhile, Russian lessor Aviacapital Service has indicated that it intends to continue pursuing its lawsuit against Airbus, despite the manufacturer returning almost $200 million in advances to Aeroflot for undelivered A350s; the lessor is a seeking a further $5.1 million for the unfulfilled deliveries.

The latest set of Ukrainian sanctions announced by Volodomyr Zelensky includes Georian Airways and its chairman Tamaz Gaiashvili as sanctioned parties. The move follows the airline’s resumption of flights to Russia. The resumption of flights from Russia to Georgia has been problematic, with low passenger numbers and inflated ticket prices. The move has also been met with considerable opposition from Georgian nationals as well as President Salome Zurabishvili and supporters of Mikhail Saakashvili.

Observers on Telegram have noted that AirBridgeCargo’s newly introduced Il-96 aircraft, which was due to make its first flight to Beijing in June, has yet to enter service. The aircraft replaces the freight carrier’s seized Western fleet.

Frequent Flyers – Russia thrown out of Russo-Chinese aircraft program (Russian)

Argumenty Nedeli – Slyusar: The MS-21 could have a long-haul variant (Russian)
Absatz – MAKS won’t take place this year (Russian)
Moscow Times – Russia calls of major air show amid security fears – reports (English)
Interfaks Turizm – Aeroflot starts regular flights to Cuba (Russian)
Simple Flying – Russian lessor will not withdraw lawsuit against Airbus for 4 Aeroflot A350s (English)
Radio Svoboda – Zelensky introduces new sanctions against Russians and Georgian Airline (Ukrainian)
Frequent Flyers [Telegram] – Why Georgian flights are not meeting expectations (Russian)
Air Media [Telegram] – AirBridgeCargo’s Il-96 has not flown yet (Russian)

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