The U.S. government concluded an agreement yesterday to loan $1 billion to the Russian airline Aeroflot for the construction of a fleet of wide-bodied jetliners. The loan, negotiated in part by U.S. vice president Al Gore and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, will be floated by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The billion-dollar credit will finance jet engines manufactured by United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney division, as well as electronic components made by Rockwell International, for the building of twenty new Ilyushin IL-96 airliners. The deal has been under negotiation for more than a year and was vigorously opposed by U.S. airline manufacturer Boeing. However, Boeing’s concerns were allayed by Moscow’s agreement gradually to open the Russian aviation market. That action is particularly welcomed by American airline manufacturers, who believe the upgrading of Russia’s aging aviation fleet could result in aircraft sales of up to $75 billion by the year 2015. The deal was also notable for Moscow’s agreement to carry out related market reforms. One such reform will allow Western lenders in future deals to file financial claims against Russian government ministries in the event that the airlines do not repay their loans. (3)
Zyuganov’s Popularity Growing, Poll Reveals.