Air Transportation: The Source Of Last Resort For Rogue Nations


August 26, 2007: Russia's civil aviation manufacturing industry is struggling, but surviving. They manage that by selling aircraft to anyone, at bargain prices. For example, Iran just bought (or leased, actually) five Tu-204s for $40 million each. These 100 ton aircraft are roughly equivalent to the $65 million, 115 ton Boeing 757 (1,050 were manufactured between 1983 and 2005, when production stopped). So far, Russia has sold about a hundred Tu-204s, which entered service in 1989. Cuba has also bought Tu-204s, as have a number of cash-strapped countries that need to carefully consider price. The Tu-204 can be configured to carry freight or passengers. The Russian government has adopted Western style incentives, like leasing and generous financial terms. Added to that are typically Russian sales techniques, meaning that Russia becomes the source of last resort for rogue nations. Russian manufacturing standards have risen considerably since the end of the Cold War. Not quite as good as in the West, but good enough, especially when Russian aircraft can be had for about a third less than equivalent Western modes.


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