Dark days for Russian carriers

Polet Airlines is one of three Russian carriers who have had their AOC’s suspended.


Dark days for Russian carriers


Russian airlines turning to government bailouts as wide-ranging sanctions being applied by the western countries continue to bite into the Russian economy. Transaero Airlines received a state bailout in late December and UTair, the third largest Russian airline is also said to be in discussion with the government for a similar arrangement.

 

By the end of November Transaero had accumulated an estimated debt for fuel alone, of US$61 million to fuel suppliers Rozneft, as well as US$49 million to Gazprom Aero. The carrier’s fleet, which includes two Ilyushin Finance leased TU-204-100C freighters, is up to 90 per cent leased – largely in foreign currency – which puts the carrier in a precarious position as the Russian ruble continues to slide. The carrier is now implementing a series of recommendations developed for the airline by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in November.

 

The sharp devaluation of the ruble during the past weeks has led to a deterioration of most Russian carrier’s profits with some Russian aviation experts forecasting collective Russian airline losses for 2014 as much as US$ 720 million – six times higher than 2013.

 

Prior to the Transaero bailout, Polet Airlines, Air Samara and Russkoye Nebo all had their AOC’s suspended. Polet, which has been struggling financially for some time, operated a fleet of three AN124 freighters, as well as two AN148 passenger aircraft on internal Russian routes.