Cuba’s flag carrier Cubana de Aviación received its Il-96-300 widebody jet at Havana’s Jose Martí International Airport on Sunday 3 December after more than a year of repair work in Russia. It has not been revealed what work was undertaken in Moscow. 

The Ilyushin aircraft was repaired in Russia for 16 months, possibly delayed by international sanctions which followed Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. But the same sanctions have boosted Ilyushin’s outlook, as ‘Western’ aircraft parts are now almost impossible to source within Russia. 

According to FlightRadar24 data, the aircraft registered as CU-T1250 was flown from Moscow to Havana, via Gander, Newfoundland in Canada. 

The craft is one of three Il-96s owned by the Cuban airline, but CU-T1250 is the only one flying. The others have been registered inactive for several years, as the airline struggled. 

It is estimated the return of the jet, which can carry close to 250 passengers, will double Cubana’s current capacity. 

Russian manufacturers have been increasing development and production since the invasion of Ukraine, with Ilyushin last month unveiling the latest Il-96 modernisation, Il-96-400M. 

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Russian and Belorussian airlines have also turned inward for their fleet needs, with Sukhoi’s Superjet project at the forefront.