- I have recently travelled to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by VIM-Avia’s aircraft. How is it going on this destination, recently opened by the airline?
- This destination is rolling. Not so fast. Anyway, we are flying through Novosibirsk and no airline is flying from Tolmachevo to Petropavlovsk, thus the demand is stable. Unfortunately the army men have delayed their vacations this year, so the demand on this destination has been delayed too, but the cargo traffic is stable and we also believe that the current passenger traffic is quite sufficient.
- You have almost blown up the industry media-space by your message regarding plans to acquire Boeing 717.
- Unfortunately the negotiations are taking longer than planned and these are only our plans yet. The reliability of this aircraft is very good. Its modifications are often used even in VIP configuration. Unfortunately, its production has been ceased. We plan to acquire the vehicles from AirTran Airways. They have 88 aircraft, which are being operated in Europe, America and Australia. The aircraft has 120-136 seats (2+3 in a row). Technically it meets all our requirements. It may land on narrow runways and may use shorter runways than the rivals. We wanted to use it for flights between Moscow and other large cities. The engines of these aircraft are located up and some of our airdromes, especially those located in the Southern part of our country, have problems with foreign objects and stones on the runway. We also wanted to use for international flights suitable for this aircraft, in other words – using it on our traditional routes.
We should acquire three jets this year. They will have a cabin configuration with 220 seats. It will let us import them without paying fees and VAT. In addition, we have a competitive leasing rate which allows carrying out break-even operating activity without changing the ticket prices. Bashkortostan airline specializes on Airbus aircraft and these ones will go to this carrier. We will use them for domestic and travel routes.
After that, 3 Boeing 757s will be returned to VIM-Avia from Bashkortostan and the total number of these jets will be 11. We are completing the retrofit of all Boeing 757 cabins. The middle seats will now have a built-in table and we will also have the possibility of flexible conversion for business-class seats in a first row. The market of business-class has been brought back to life and we have this demand on all the destinations. The demand for business-class seats is also actual for charter travel flights. We see how our rivals are selling business class and sometimes it is surprising that the price is so high and that people are willing to pay this price. The level of comfort for economy-class passengers will be high too in the new cabin.
- And what about crews for А321?
Yes, the deficit of personnel exists, but now we have a temporary excess of pilots for this type since a lot of crews have been trained in different airlines. So we will find crews for three jets.
- What will be the balance between regular and charter flights?
- There are different kinds of charters. Some charters are juristically regular flights. For example, we are assigned carrier on Moscow-Barcelona route. We are selling 90% of seats to the tour operators and only 10% at retail. Many airlines are acting this way. It is hard to divide the airlines into charter and regular nowadays. In fact, almost all the airlines are hybrid, using charter and regular flights.
- How is it going with cargo transportation now?
- The cargo sector is doing well. Russian Sky’s Il-76s have already been working in Sudan for two years in according with UN contract. But I would like to implement a project connected with the cargo transportation in Russia. At present these are very distant plans. And we also have some problems, for example, we cannot import any freighter in Russia without paying fees. Since the domestic cargo market of Russia is quite small at the moment, in general I am talking about transit of cargo.
- And what about Tu-204SM contracts?
- We are negotiating at the moment. We have signed a preliminary agreement for ten vehicles and we are trying to arrange about all the financial terms. If we will have prices interesting for us, then we will do it. If we will not arrange about prices, so be it. The company appointed by the government is carrying out this work – VEB-Leasing. VEB is allocating money to its subsidiary and it will acquire the jets.55 billion rubles have been allocated for acquisition of 44 jets, thus the price of one jet is 1,07 billion rubles. But this price is not for us, it is for VEB-Leasing. If we receive a reasonable offer from them, then we will sign a contract.
- It will be a financial leasing?
- Yes. According to the Russian Government decree about backing of the aircraft industry, the subsidies are allocated only in case of financial leasing and it is 25% of leasing payment. Transaero, Dalavia, Vladavia are using this scheme.
- Did you have contracts with Russian Technologies on aircraft leasing?
- We are open for every discussion, but it seems like at present they are orientated only on Aeroflot and we did not receive any proposals.
- Did situation with Domodedovo airport influence you in any way?
- Honestly speaking, it did not influence us at all. The production at the airport is aimed at the passenger on one side and on the airline at the other side. And it keeps working well for the airlines. It is a benchmark airport and we are confident that its service will be kept at the high level.
- And what do you think about situation in civil aviation in general?