Flying Russia’s Potemkin Skies
At the Paris Air Show last week, Russia’s Sukhoi aircraft manufacturing concern was able to secure only a pathetic total of three orders for its new “Superjet-100” model, upon which the company has pinned all its future hopes. Looking below the surface, we see that the whole business was nothing but a pathetic charade, a classic Russian Potemkin village carried out to paper over the fact that there is, in the words of aeronautics experts “nothing new” about Russia’s plane. In fact, there were no legitimate offers at all for the Russian crate. Given Russia’s horrific record of air disasters, that’s hardly surprising.
The first order wasn’t an order at all, it was from the Hungarian airline Malev and was a mere letter of intent to buy planes the company can’t currently finance. As Forbes reported: “Malev is not exactly a tough customer for Russia to win over. The airline is 49%-owned by Russia’s Vneshekonombank, a state-owned lender, which just happens to also be a 5% shareholder of United Aircraft Corporation”
In other words, Russia bought planes from itself. Well, it said it might buy them.
Something quite similar happened with the second order, from Italy’s ItAli airlines, which bought an insignficant ten planes. An Italian company owns a blocking stake in Sukhoi and was the driving force behind the Superjet.
In other words, Italy bought planes from itself, with a Russian gun to its head.
And the last buyer? That would be tiny impoverished Armenia, one of Russia’s post-Soviet stooge states, a lap dog eager to do Russia’s bidding at every turn. The “order” was too laughable to discuss further.
In other words, again Russia bought planes from itself.
This is exactly the same way the Soviet Union used to make it big in business, and when the Iron Curtain was it place it used to fool many clueless Westerners. But when the USSR collapsed because it was all illusion and no substance, one would have thought Russians might reconsider this crazy dishonest game and actually start trying to do something real.
No such luck.