Making a welcome appearance at London Heathrow Airport on the afternoon of Sunday 16 June 2013 were three aircraft operated by Rossiya, the Russian state owned airline, bringing Russian President Vladimir Putin to London for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron. Kevin Jackson reports.
As well as operating standard scheduled and charter passenger flights, Rossiya also provide VIP flights on behalf of the Russian government, including the operation of a dedicated presidential fleet under the Department for Presidential Affairs.
It was three of the Presidential fleet that brought the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to London for a pre-G8 summit meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
The first arrival was Tupolev Tu-214 RA-64521, possibly transporting some support personnel and the Russian press corps two hours in advance.
At just before 1500, the President’s Ilyushin IL-96-300PU, a highly modified IL-96 (the ‘PU’ standing for “Command Point” in Russian), serial number RA-96020, appeared on runway 27 Left ILR and, after landing, taxied directly to the Royal Suite.
Shortly afterwards a second Tu-214 arrived, however, this was modified with a secure communications suite, with numerous extra antennas and a distinctive ‘canoe’ fairing atop the fuselage. RA-64522 is designated as a Tu-214SUS Airborne Communications Centre.
Following the visit, all three aircraft would leave for Belfast and the G8 summit.