Airbus Halts Russian Freighter Joint Venture as Demand Slows

Airbus SAS said it will suspend a joint venture with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. converting narrowbody jetliners to cargo planes as demand has dropped and used jets are being bought for passenger use.

More demand for new and secondhand A320 and A321 single- aisle passenger jetliners, and less for freighter versions led to the decision, Toulouse, France-based Airbus said today in an e-mailed statement.

Airbus, OAO Irkut Corp. (IRKT) and UAC have been partners in the conversion venture for four years, Airbus said. When Irkut signed a deal in October 2006, Airbus said it wanted the Russian partnership eventually to have about half the world market for conversion of single-aisle aircraft.

Irkut and Airbus will continue making components for the single-aisle jet program, according to the statement.

Airbus is a division of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

To contact the reporter on this story: Howard Mustoe in London at hmustoe@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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