Cubana de Aviación recovers another Russian aircraft: an Ilyushin 96-300s returns after maintenance

Gastón Sena

On the morning of December 3rd, the Ilyushin Il-96-300 of Cubana de Aviación, registered as CU-T1250, arrived at José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana, Cuba, after fourteen months away from the island. The arrival marked the end of its inspection period in Russia, allowing it to be the second aircraft recovered by the airline.

See Also: Cubana de Aviación Recovers One of Its Tupolev 204s After Seven Years

The lack of suitable components for its Russian-origin aircraft had previously prevented Cuba from performing fleet maintenance. Cubana de Aviación’s executives attributed this difficulty to sanctions imposed by the United States.

In 2019, Cuba and Russia reached an agreement that allowed heavy maintenance, known as Check-D and Check-C, to be carried out on Russian-made aircraft in their country of origin.

At that time, Cubana de Aviación operated two Tupolev 204-100B (CU-T1701 and CU-T1702), two Tupolev 204-100CE (CU-C1700 and CU-C1703), and four Ilyushin 96-300 (CU-T1250, CU-T1251, CU-T1254, and CU-T1717).

Arrival of the IL 96 in Havana. Photo: Cubana de Aviación

The return of the Ilyushin Il-96 of Cubana de Aviación

Delivered in December 2005, the CU-T1250, the only active Ilyushin Il-96 of Cubana de Aviación, underwent a C-Check at the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association (VASO) hangars at Pridacha Voronezh Airport.

During this period, Cubana de Aviación arranged a wet-leasing contract with Plus Ultra Airlines that allowed it to operate an Airbus A340-300 for its flights to Madrid, Spain, and Buenos Aires/Ezeiza, Argentina.

According to local Cuban media, the Il-96 underwent a fourteen-month maintenance process, focusing on safety systems, navigation, and general comfort improvements. The plane now has a configuration of 18 business class seats and 244 economy class seats.

The CU-T1250 departed from Moscow-Zhukovsky International Airport on December 2nd, crossing Finnish, Norwegian, and Arctic airspace before landing in Gander (YQX), Canada, from where it continued its journey to Havana.

Currently, it remains uncertain whether the airline will soon resume flights to Argentina and Spain, as the latter country has imposed restrictions on Russian models due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

The CU-T1250 at VASO facilities before maintenance. Photo: Alekseï Maliukov/VASO

Second Russian aircraft recovered by Cubana de Aviación

One of the Tupolev 204, with registration CU-T1702, underwent a Check-D at the Spektr-Avia Technic Maintenance Center at Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport between July 2019 and September 2023. This aircraft, 16.1 years old at the time, was assembled and delivered by manufacturer Aviastar-SP to the state airline in December 2007.

The CU-T1702 returned to Havana from Ulyanovsk, making stops in Reykjavik, Iceland, and Gander, Canada, in September 2023. In Cubana Resumes Operations with Tupolev 204 After Multi-Year Hiatus. The future addition or recovery of international destinations remains a mystery for the coming months.

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