Russia’s largest defense air show moved into its exhibition phase Friday after wrapping up four days of business near Moscow for the country’s defense and commercial aviation sectors. The International Aviation and Space Salon, a biennial event also known as MAKS, witnessed billion-dollar defense deals, while commercial airlines saw a dramatic decline in deals from two years earlier.
The biggest deal of the event was when Russian defense company United Aircraft Corporation signed a $1.5 billion deal with the Russian Air Force for 48 Su-35 Sukhoi jet fighters.
“This order is very important for us,” UAC President Yury Slyusar told Tass, the Russian government-backed news agency. “It demonstrates that the first order was completed, and that the military is satisfied with the performance of the planes.”
While a series of smaller defense contracts were made with Middle Eastern countries, deals for civilian aircraft were far less lucrative than 2013’s $21 billion bonanza. Russian airlines have halted the purchase of Boeing and Airbus aircraft since the collapse of Russia's ruble made such purchases too expensive. Economic sanctions initiated by the European Union have also prevented Russian airline manufacturers from selling to private and commercial clients.
Most companies looking to purchase large orders of commercial aircraft do so via loans from big international banks, but the economic sanctions against Russia have meant that those banks are unable to offer credit. Russian banks have attempted to step in and fund some smaller orders, but most are unable to match the multibillion-dollar lending power of large international institutions.
MAKS-2015 featured about 600 Russian companies and more than 150 foreign firms representing around 30 countries, Kremlin officials said. The highest-profile visitors were the Saudi and Jordanian kings, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as well as Chinese and Iranian military delegations.