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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 15:52 GMT
Aeroflot contract to boost Airbus
A computer-generated impression of the new Airbus A350
The A350 will not be ready for several years
Struggling planemaker Airbus is set to get a boost with a major order for new planes from Russian carrier Aeroflot.

Aeroflot said it planned to sign a deal to use 22 A350 models - the mid-size plane Airbus is developing at a cost of 10bn euros (6.8bn) - on a lease basis.

The planes are not likely to be delivered until 2015 and Aeroflot said that from next year it would also lease between eight and 10 A330 planes.

Plagued by financial problems, Airbus is seeking to cut 10,000 jobs.

'Firm deal'

Delays to its flagship A380 project and the huge cost of building the A350 - designed to compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner - has forced it into radical measures to cut costs.

Airbus secured fewer orders for new planes last year than US rival Boeing for the first time since 2000.

But although the value of the Aeroflot deal has yet to be disclosed, it will come as a significant boost to the Franco-German firm.

"The deal will be done in the next few weeks," Valery Okulov, Aeroflot's chief executive said. "It's a firm contract."

The planemaker is developing a closer relationship with Russia.

Airbus has several engineering plants in Russia and Russian state-owned bank VTB recently bought a 5% stake in EADS, the aerospace and defence firm which owns Airbus.

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