Russia Plans to Launch Designated Far East Airline

Russia is exploring the possibility of creating an air carrier designated to serve its undeveloped but resource-rich Far East Region, Izvestia writes citing a letter from Deputy Transport Minister Alexander Yurchik to the Russian Federation Council Economic Policy Committee.

Plans are also in store to upgrade or create a new center for maintenance and retraining aviation personnel in the Far East, Yurchik says in the letter.

According to the paper, the Committee’s president Ivan Abramov’s request to Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov to take into account the transport accessibility dilemma in Russia’s Far Eastern region, which became even more complex after the Transaero air carrier left the market in 2015. 

In 2017, VIM Airlines, which carried out a sizeable part of flights to Russia’s East, ceased its operations and air ticket prices have surged as a result, Izvestia writes.

The discussion will continue next year, and the Federation Council will oversee issues related to Far Eastern air transport services.

“There is hope that the project will be carried out. We now have a surplus in the federal budget. Oil prices are not falling, the government has money, so all the preconditions are there for considering this issue next year,” Abramov told Izvestia.

Creating a new airline to tackle the transport accessibility issue is impractical, Oleg Panteleev, Executive Director of analytical agency Aviaport, told the paper.

“A program for subsidizing flights to the Far East has existed for a long time, in accordance with a government decree. It won’t be too difficult to increase the amount of that financial assistance without establishing a new company and extending it to wider population groups. There are all possible mechanisms. Any Russian air carrier can apply for taking part in the flight subsidy program,” he stressed.