Is Antonov really dead?

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Today the Ukrainian cabinet declared the final liquidation of the State aircraft manufacturer Antonov.  All of its assets have been transferred to the defence giant Ukroboronrpom. 

Since 1946, the aircraft manufacturer Antonov has produced over 22,000 aircraft. It began in the 1930s as a minor enterprise designing small gliders and entered the military realm in the 1940s with its bizarre concept for a flying tank. Since then it has become famous for producing large transport aircraft. For 27 years its An-225 has been the largest heavier-than-air aircraft ever built. Antonov’s core customers were (from the 1940s-80s) the Soviet Union and its allied nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Ukraine’s independence, Antonov endured the 1990s which were extremely tough for former Soviet aircraft companies. Until recently, Russia was Antonov’s primary customer, with Antonov working closely with the United Aircraft Corporation. But as the two nations’ relationship has deteriorated, largely thanks to Russia’s aggressive reactions to Ukraine’s attempt to increase links to the West, it was clear that Antonov could not keep Russia as its primary customer. Antonov’s relationship with Russia was complicated, with the majority of its suppliers still based in the Federation.

Since then, despite last year’s decent profit, Antonov has had to work hard to adapt to a new world. It had also become the centre of fiercely politicised debate. Some have speculated that this final step in Antonov’s liquidation is part of a long-running power struggle between Antonov’s pro-Russian management and the Government. Antonov’s management has long been distrusted for its actual or perceived allegiances; following the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution there was an attempt to dispose of them, a move only halted by fierce defence from the plant workers themselves.

Some Russian observers consider the move may be sleight of hand, with Antonov a key cog in a corrupt enterprise. As with Russia, corruption is endemic in Ukraine.

According to a Ukrainian Ministry press release, “The Government has adopted a resolution on the liquidation of the State Aircraft Manufacturing Concern Antonov due to lack of members, as the three companies which comprised the concern exited it and were transferred to Ukroboronprom State Concern.

Time will tell if this is a badge change or the end of the line for Antonov. The latter seems unlikely, as dispute a downfall in sales of new airframes, the global market for support of Antonov aircraft remains. Antonov Airlines (an outfit specialising in moving oversize cargo) remains highly profitable and was a lifeline for the company- what becomes of this operation could prove extremely revealing. Antonov’s assets have been moving to Ukroboronrpom in a controlled manner for some time, and this final step is largely symbolic. It is hard not to see the eagerness with which Russian media has shown in reporting ‘the death of Antonov’ has having some political motivation.

Today Antonov decided to clarify the matter:

“Official statement of ANTONOV Company press service

Hereby we are drawing your attention to the fact that information about liquidation of ANTONOV State Company is not true.
The Government of Ukraine took decision on liquidation of the ANTONOV State CONCERN. The CONCERN consisted of three enterprises: ANTONOV State COMPANY, Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company (KSAMC) and State enterprise Plant 410 of Civil Aviation. In 2015, aiming to increase efficiency of the aircraft industry, the Government of Ukraine took decision to pass ANTONOV State COMPANY, KSAMC and State enterprise Plant 410 of Civil Aviation (i.e. all three enterprises of ANTONOV CONCERN) under management of UKROBORONPROM State Concern.
At that, ANTONOV State COMPANY continues to work. It performs full cycle of the aircraft creation – from pre-project scientific researches to construction, tests, certification, serial production and after-sale maintenance. As before, the COMPANY’s production is represented under ANTONOV brand.
The official information is published on the site of Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine on the NEWS page”

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You should also enjoy some more of our articles: There’s a whole feast of features, including the 10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Was the Spitfire overrated? Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humourous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

 

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5 comments

  1. sglover

    There’s nothing in the Kyiv Post about it, but from Dec 15 there’s “Ukraine to supply 30 new transport An-178 aircraft to Saudi Arabia’s Air Force” (behind a paywall, unfortunately). If true, it doesn’t sound like production lines will be shutting down any time soon.

    With our wonderful Saudi friends on one end of the deal, and Ukrainian tycoons on the other, it’s a little overwhelming trying to imagine all the possible permutations of graft and payoffs. But in the end it all ends up in Swiss banks and London real estate….

  2. sglover

    Oops, sorry, missed this from the Dec 2 Kyiv Post: http://www.kyivpost.com/article/content/business/cabinet-approves-list-of-13-state-enterprises-with-largest-fiscal-risks-403314.html:

    The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a priority list of economic entities of the public sector with the largest fiscal risks that are to be restructured, which includes 13 companies.
    …includes Ukrspyrt, PJSC State Food and Grain Corporation of Ukraine, Energoatom, Ukrenergo, PJSC Ukrhydroenergo, State Railways Administration of Ukraine PJSC Ukrzaliznytsia, Boryspil International Airport, Ukrposhta, Pivdenne Design Bureau, Pivdenny Machine Building Plant, Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company, State Enterprise Antonov, and Naftogaz Ukrainy.

    Off topic, but… Boryspil is Kyiv’s airport, so in some sense it’s Ukraine’s Dulles or Charles De Gaulle, though smaller than either. I’ve flown into it a few times. It’s improved over the years, and I’m wondering if privatization will be a good thing or a bad thing.

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