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Russia pressures Boeing to deliver Dreamliners before Olympics
Bloomberg News

Russia is urging Boeing Co. to accelerate deliveries of 787 Dreamliners to OAO Aeroflot so the state-run carrier can put them into service before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, when traffic is expected to surge.

 

Associated Press file

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Published: 7/15/2010 10:31 AM

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Russia is urging Boeing Co. to accelerate deliveries of 787 Dreamliners to OAO Aeroflot so the state-run carrier can put them into service before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, when traffic is expected to surge.

Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said he pressed Boeing executives during a recent trip to the U.S. to accelerate deliveries, which are now scheduled for 2016.

"We asked them to move it to 2014," Levitin told reporters in Yekaterinburg, the Ural Mountains city where President Dmitry Medvedev held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today. "We would like the official carrier of the Games to have these jets during the Olympics," Levitin said.

Boeing, based in Chicago, is more than two years behind schedule in deploying the Dreamliner, the first airplane to be built mostly from composite-plastic materials instead of aluminum. The twin-engine jet has been slowed by parts shortages, redesigns and a new manufacturing process that relies more on component suppliers. Japan's All Nippon Airways Co., the first customer, expects its first plane in November.

Dmitry Krol, a spokesman for Boeing in Moscow, declined to comment on Levitin's remarks, saying only that Aeroflot's contract is worth about $3.6 billion and calls for 22 Dreamliners to be delivered in 2016. Aeroflot, a member of the SkyTeam alliance, is also due to start receiving 22 aircraft from Boeing rival Airbus SAS aircraft in 2016.

Aeroflot, based in Moscow, has spent the last two decades shedding its Soviet image by retraining staff, importing planes and minimizing the communist hammer and sickle in its logo. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last week criticized Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Savelyev for having just six Russian-made planes in a fleet of 115.

"I want to understand how much domestic technology Aeroflot will buy," Putin said during a meeting with Savelyev, according to a transcript posted on the government's website. "You want to dominate the domestic market, but you don't want to buy Russian technology. That won't do."

Savelyev promised to come up with a plan to buy more domestic aircraft, according to a transcript of the meeting on the prime minister's website. Aeroflot has already agreed to purchase 30 SuperJets, a regional plane made by Sukhoi Co. The first SuperJet, Russia's first major commercial aviation project since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, is scheduled to be delivered to Aeroflot by the end of the year.