MOSCOW (AP) — The Moscow international air show has closed claiming some US$3 billion (euro2.2 billion) in contracts, 200 percent above the last show, but far lower than Western shows that Russia wants to emulate.
The air show was held amid calls by President Vladimir Putin and other officials for reviving Russia's commercial airliner business, which has suffered severe money problems since the Soviet Union's disintegration.
The 2005 edition of the biennial show brought about US$1 billion in contracts, but this year's show, which ended Sunday, easily topped that.
The United Aircraft Corporation, an umbrella for Russia's plane-makers, signed some US$1.5 billion (euro1.1 billion) in contracts, said Boris Alyoshin, the head of the Federal Agency on Industry, in comments televised on the Vesti-24 television.
Organizers said other contracts would boost the total to around US$3 billion (euro2.2 billion), according to Russian news agencies.
Russia hopes the show eventually will be as much a force in the industry as Britain's Fairnborough and France's Le Bourget. But it has a long way to go — at this year's Le Bourget show, Airbus alone signed contracts of US$88 billion (euro65 billion).
Little action was reported for one of Russia's strongest hopes for in the civil air market — the Sukhoi Superjet-100 — which seats 75-95 passengers. The ''regional jet'' includes Boeing among its subcontractors, but reportedly got no new orders during the show, although Sukhoi and the Italian company Alenia Aeronatica signed an joint-venture agreement to sell and service the planes.
Many older-design Russian airliners do not meet Western standards for noise and emissions, limiting Russia's market. Underlining that problem, one of the larger deals of this year's air show was the purchase of four Boeing 737s by Atlant-Soyuz, an airline controlled by the Moscow city government.
Russia's military aviation sector remains strong, however.
Vladimir Poleshchuk, the deputy head of the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, said military-related contracts had totaled around US$400 million (euro294 million), according to the Interfax news agency.
State arms trader Rosoboronexport said nearly 800 companies from about 100 countries participated in the biannual show, up from 70 two years ago. The largest foreign delegations were from China, Latin America and Arab countries.
However, the reputation of Russia's military planes was shadowed by the announcement that the military had grounded all its Su-24 bombers, after a crash last week in the Far East that was believed to have been caused by technical problems.
Russian officials said recently they planned to spend about US$250 billion (euro184 billion) to build about 4,500 civilian aircraft by 2025 as part of a program. The newly formed United Aircraft Corp. was set up to unite country's far-flung aircraft-related manufacturers.
This year's event, which was extensively covered by Russian media, has also been dogged by reports of poor organization, leading to frustrations such as inadequate toilet facilities and long traffic jams.
Other deals announced during the show included an agreement signed by Boeing Co. and Russia's OAO VSMPO-Avisma to create a joint venture to make titanium forgings for use in production of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.