President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon! It is hot here. But the atmosphere is good.
Remark: It is a working atmosphere.
Vladimir Putin: Precisely. Things are on the move, as they say. The quantity of equipment that you are making is on the rise. I hope, the quality is guaranteed, as has always been the case at your enterprise.
Remark: Thank you, Mr President, for the fact that our plant is working at full capacity. You see, an ambitious programme is underway, including repairs and major upgrades of the Tu-22M3 and Tu-160 aircraft, manufacturing the Tu-160M2 and getting ready for the production of an advanced long-range aviation complex.
The team is looking confidently to the future and making plans even for decades to come.
Vladimir Putin: Just so. That is the way it should be, as we signed a contract for 10 aircraft early last year. Ten more Tu-160s will be upgraded. Perhaps, we will even make it more than 10. I spoke with the Defence Minister. Given that the Tu-160 will be a completely new aircraft with a vast array of capabilities that the Defence Ministry needs, it is not ruling out expanding its contract in the future. So, that will keep you busy. How many people worked here in Soviet times? Several tens of thousands?
Director of the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant Nikolai Savitskikh: 28,000.
Vladimir Putin: Almost 30,000. Then it fell to 3,500. I hope that these tragic years, the mid-1990s, and the most tragic year of 1995, will never repeat in our history or in the future of your enterprise. By the way, it would be correct to honour the memory of the outstanding director and aircraft manufacturer, your former CEO Vitaly Kopylov. We will give it some thought.
Nikolai Savitskikh: We have already decided on this.
President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov: We built a monument to him.
President of UAC Yury Slyusar: We will name an aircraft after him. One of the first, the production of which stopped when he was CEO here.
Rustam Minnikhanov: It is only right.
Vladimir Putin: Right.
We will also need to do it nationwide. Back then during those difficult years, your republic helped a lot. It brought food here, to the enterprise, and had it distributed among the workers.
I am aware that wages are slowly rising. Your bosses say it is 50,000 to 54,000. Not everyone is making that much. Pay varies across different categories of workers.
Nikolai Savitskikh: This is the average wage.
Vladimir Putin: And wages will go up gradually.
Nikolai Savitskikh: The employees could use some help. Young people should be brought aboard.
Remark: The factory floors are being renovated, production processes relaunched, and new machine tools brought in. Young people see that there is a future and join us.
Vladimir Putin: Knowing that the machine tools were made in Russia is particularly gratifying. We toured the grounds and had a look. The domestic machine tool industry has been rebuilt almost from the ground up. Management told me that their output accounts for 54 percent of our market. The quality is good, great quality. So, we will be working on this as well.
Remark: Young workers are joining us, and we have become mentors. We hold contests for them modelled on WorldSkills. We provide a training ground for Russia’s national team for fields like Aviation Equipment Maintenance and Sheet Metal Processing. Also, in conjunction with the Republic of Tatarstan, we are getting ourselves ready for the opening of the WorldSkills 2019 competition which will be held here in Kazan in August. I would like to invite you, Mr President, to attend the opening ceremony.
Vladimir Putin: I can do no more than open it. I cannot do what you do. (Laughter.)
I wish you all the best and every success.