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Russian Aircraft Boss Denies Ukraine Sales Fallout

Jul. 15, 2014 - 04:07PM   |  
By TOM KINGTON   |   Comments
President of United Aircraft Corporation
Mikhail Pogosyan, president of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, said he sees no connection between the crisis in Ukraine and company sales abroad. Here, he speaks to journalists in 2012. (Romeo Gacad / AFP via Getty Images)
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FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) does not expect to see any fall in sales, or any change to its relationships with European and US partner companies, following the Ukraine crisis, an official said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at the Farnborough International Airshow, UAC President Mikhail Pogosyan shrugged off commercial sanctions that have been meted out to Russia by the UK since Russia took over the Crimea.

“I can see no direct connection between political change and changes in sales,” he said. “I see no changes, in military, civilian or transport aircraft. There may be some particularities, but they do not have a big influence. The promotion of our products is in our interests and in the interests of our partners in Europe.”

See full Defense News coverage of the Farnborough Airshow

UAC is the Russian state-controlled grouping of major Russian aircraft managers, both civil and military.

As for UAC’s relationships with partner firms in the West, Pogosyan dismissed any question of souring ties due to Ukraine.

“The aircraft industry is focused on long-term cooperation and these changes in the political situation should not affect such cooperation,” he said. “All our military suppliers are domestic, but in case of any shipments from overseas, if there are any problems, [production] can be quickly localized.”

Turning to UAC’s civil business, Pogosyan said “International partners like Boeing are keen to continue the relationship. I believe the base of this cooperation is mutual benefit. We deliver titanium to international manufacturers, we are all interested in cooperation.”

By meeting journalists at Farnborough on Tuesday, Pogosyan appeared to be ignoring a tweeted request on Monday by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to all Russians to leave the air show.

Rogozin made his request after the UK government said no Russian government delegates had been invited to Farnborough as a protest over Ukraine.

But Alexander Velovich, the representative of the Farnborough International Airshow in Russia and Ukraine, said the tweet needed to be taken with a pinch of salt. “The tweet was not official,” he said.

Velovich pointed out that no Russian delegation was invited to Farnborough two years ago either.

He said that large numbers of Russian exhibitors had been denied visas to attend the show, but he claimed that was not linked to a UK protest but to a bungling British bureaucracy.

Of the 450 Russians due to attend to the show, “more than 100” had not obtained visas, he said. Of 120 UAC staff, he added, 49 had not received visas.

“But none were rejected,” he said, adding the visas — which require fingerprinting — had simply not been issued in time.

Velovich blamed a new contractor handling visa applications to visit UK for the British Embassy. “The current operator is awful,” he said. “I understand they don’t have experience.”

Velovich said the waiting time for exhibitors attending Farnborough in 2012 was two to three weeks, while this year the waiting time had been four to six weeks, even as long as eight weeks.

“Those who applied in May got their visas,” he said. “You used to wait 20-30 minutes to give fingerprints, while this time I waited four and a half hours.

“Farnborough sent a letter to the embassy in Moscow in mid-June with lists of exhibitors, asking them to speed it up,” he said. ■

Email: tkington@defensenews.com.

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