Cuba Business

Cuba buys Ilyushin Il-96-300 Presidential jets

Posted March 15, 2006 by publisher in Cuba Business.


Cuba is buying one of Russia’s most up-to-date airliners, carefully crafted for President Fidel Castro’s personal comfort.

The purchase is part of an initial Cuban order for two brand new Ilyushin planes worth $110 million (�63 million) which Russian officials say is a shot in the arm for their struggling airline industry.

To head off criticism that a new presidential jet is an expensive luxury in austere times, Cuba says one of its new planes is being used to ferry workers to and from Venezuela.

To finance the deal, Cuba has paid 15% of the total sum up front, the rest coming from a 10-year loan from Russian banks.

Creature comforts

Russian NTV Mir television said the designers at Ilyushin had worked hard to give Mr Castro as smooth and secure a journey as possible.

“This is a sofa bed on which he can spend his hours of rest or read a book from his own library. Everything has been designed to be as ergonomic as possible, with a personal reading lamp,” designer Aleksandr Kuchukhidze told the channel.

External view of President Castro’s new presidential plane
The luxury plane was exported to Havana from Russia

Principal interior designer Anton Nikolayev added: “Beige colours will predominate. Business meetings and talks can be held here.”

The station showed the little luxuries the president could expect: a DVD player, drinks bar and leather seats. But security is paramount too: the plane comes with armoured cockpit doors and a system for making bombs safe.

Export breakthrough

The report showed the Ilyushin Il-96-300, built in Voronezh, being handed over at Havana’s Jose Marti airport. It said the order was one of the biggest the Voronezh Ilyushin plant had secured this decade.

“These are the first Russian civilian aircraft to have been exported in the last 15 years,” Ilyushin finance director Aleksandr Rubtsov said.

“We are convinced that Cuba can become a springboard for exporting our planes, above all in the countries of Latin America.”

Russia and Cuba plan to sign another contract in Cuba on 10 March for the supply of a further five airliners, for an undisclosed sum.

Cuba has been a key customer of Soviet-built aircraft - whether civilian Ilyushins or military MiGs - since the Cold War era.

Even today, Cuban pilots for the newest Ilyushins are being trained in Russia, and Ilyushin engineers are in to Havana to school ground crews on maintaining the planes.

Member Comments

On March 15, 2006, publisher wrote:

“To finance the deal, Cuba has paid 15% of the total sum up front, the rest coming from a 10-year loan from Russian banks.”

Seems like a pretty good financing deal.

Why the new jets? Is Fidel planning more world travel?

On March 19, 2006, Ralph wrote:

It is just outrageous and unscouncionable,Cuba needs many things so as to reach better level of confort to the cuban people,but not buy a super-jet for
the Number one of the government in place,the details of the deal are suspicious,b/c the russians love as many,but they the most,to make a good business, and that 10-year loan is a big risk for them,no,definetely i don’t believe that,that just is the courtain to embellish the deal.No way the russians
wait 10 year,they know better than others,that nobody knows what the next day is bring forth.

On March 25, 2006, Eric (Cuban-american) wrote:

Descpicable !!!! I am stunned !!!!

On July 06, 2006, Marcos Maturell Tamayo wrote:

That is nothing compare to Air-Force one. Yes, Cuba can affort, 9, 10 per years as long as the goverment take advantages of the second one. I hope they will, I’m very please the way, they are doing business, Eh!, sometimes, you have to treat yourself. We all do it, don’t we?