airBaltic: 'We won't be flying Sukhoi planes'

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Martin Gauss, chief executive of Latvia's national airline airBaltic on Tuesday confirmed that the company would not be buying planes from Russian manufacturer Sukhoi.

The possibility that airBaltic might buy planes for regional routes from Russia in the form of the Sukhoi Superjet at a time of high tensions between that country and Latvia and its NATO allies had been a cause of widespread controversy.

However, on Tuesday Gauss said no such deal would take place, and hinted that Canada's Bombardier - with whom airBaltic already has a large order for larger CS300 planes - might instead provide its smaller CS100 planes even though they are likely to be more expensive.

"I can confirm that airBaltic will not fly Sukhoi's aircraft... we have decided we will not have Sukhoi Superjets flying in airBaltic," Gauss repeatedly told journalists following a meeting wit the Latvian cabinet that was also intended by controversial German investor Ralf-Dieter Montag-Girmes.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma - standing to the side of acting Transport Minister Rihards Kozlovskis at a press conference - said that as Sukhoi was linked to Russia's "military industrial complex" which was under international sanctions, a clause had been inserted in the investment agreement with Montag-Girmes forbidding any purchase of Sukhoi planes.

"I can assure you that the current shareholders' agreement includes a new prohibition on the purchase, hire and use of products from a military-industrial complex which are subject to European Union sanctions," Straujuma said.

Though Sukhoi itself is not technically included in EU and US sanctions, its parent company and major shareholder, Russian state-owned United Aircraft Corporation is sanctioned.



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