International gates for UVT Aero open in July
The Tatarstan airline is going to operate the first flights to near abroad countries in the fourth quarter
UVT Aero is to obtain permission to operate international flights in July 2017. The young airline that flew only within Russia is going to go to Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is planned to open a subsidised flight to the westernmost point of Russia – to Kaliningrad – in September. Curiously, it will be operated above an EU country. But the head of the company hopes that Europe won't impose its sanctions on UVT because of Crimea.
UVT Aero will start a preparation to launch international flights in summer
UVT Aero will start a preparation to launch international flights in summer. In July, the company is going to obtain permission to operate international flights. According to director general of the airline Pyotr Trubaev, the very international flights are to start in the fourth quarter – at the beginning of 2018. At the moment, they are going to obtain instructions to perform international flights to near abroad countries. Minsk, Tbilisi, Batumi, Erevan and Baku will be the first destinations. Approximate prices are unknown now.
Kazan international airport's press service says that there is only one flight to Baku from Azerbaijani airline Azal in the winter timetable of the airport. It allows to fly to Tbilisi with a transfer flight. However, there are not flights to resort Batumi.
Azamat Sabirov: ''I think the flight from Kazan to Tbilisi will be enough. One can get Batumi from Tbilisi by car. To make a separate flight to Batumi? I don't know…'' Photo: Roman Khasaev
Tbilisi — good, Minsk — not
Director general of AVT (Editor's Note: plane ticket sales company) Azamat Sabirov positively estimates the performance of international flights by the Tatarstan airline. At the same time, the interlocutor of the newspaper doubts the feasibility to open two flights to Georgia at once.
''As for Tbilisi, it is an excellent destination. It is expected to be popular. I think the flight from Kazan to Tbilisi will be enough. One can get Batumi from Tbilisi by car. To make a separate flight to Batumi? I don't know… Tbilisi is good, but the airport is very expensive there. Once we wanted to launch charter flights to Tbilisi. But we had problems with Rosaviation concerning the permission for flights.''
However, tourism market experts noted many times that the absence of a direct flight to Batumi stops Tatarstan residents' trips to Georgia, which has become popular among Russian tourists in the last years. The resort is 100 km of the capital. Not everybody is ready to go there from the airport by bus.
At the same time, Azamat Sabirov did not share the hopes that Trubaev pins on the flights to Minsk. ''Speaking of Minsk and its popularity, I also told UVT that there is a flight of Belavia to Zhukovsky. I told it would be good to fly to Zhukovsky and link it with Minsk. Here you kill two birds with one stone – the flight to both Moscow and Minsk are full. I am not very sure that Minsk will be very popular because AirBaltic will fly, we have quite many destinations and not many citizens of Kazan.''
''We hope that restriction measures won't affect our airline''
Theoretically, the development of UVT Aero on international destinations can restrain their flights to Crimea, which were one of the best that the airline operated in August 2015. As for the possible imposition of sanctions on the airline, Trubaev reminded that today UVT Aero JSC is already on Ukraine's sanction list because of flights to Simferopol.
''Speaking about other countries, it is difficult to forecast the change of the political situation in the world. Anyway, we hope that restriction measures won't affect our airline.''
A test flight that sanctions can endanger is to take place at the beginning of autumn in 2017. Then Europe's attitude to the Tatarstan carrier's will be clear.
''It is planned to open a subsidies flight from Kazan to Kaliningrad in September 2017. The flight is Russian, it flies above an EU country,'' Trubaev said.
Its own fleet restrains the development of UVT Aero
In Sabirov's opinion, they could arrange a direct flight between the Tatarstan capital with Paris and Milan in a medium-short term. The airport of Kazan is quite developed for it.
''We have an unclear flight to Frankfurt, which stopped, I think. We would like to fly to Paris and Milan. If there are two flights, it will be very cool. In this case, as Sabirov thinks, the airline will have to renew its own fleet. ''We will need to buy a long-distance plane. Earlier Tatarstan airline could afford it and fly far. I hope that they (Editor's Note: UVT Aero) will be able to buy new planes with a new licence. They have a limited fleet.''
Now the fleet of the company consists of 50-seat regional Bombardier CRJ200 planes, which it got at different times as a legacy from Ak Bars Aero. The head of UVT Aero confirms Sabirov's words. ''The opening of long-distance flights is possible if only another type of planes with greater capacity is purchased,'' Trubaev says. However, the head of the company did not share the plans for the purchase of new planes.
Nowadays the company is actively slicing off big pieces in the domestic market. In 2017, UVT Aero will operate 15 subsidised flights. It is three destinations more than it was at the beginning of the year. For instance, a destination Kazan-Perm-Kazan has opened since 15 February. Then flights Kazan-Nizhny Novgorod-Kazan, Perm-Samara-Perm will launch from 1 March. All flights are co-financed from regional budgets of the Republic of Tatarstan, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm Oblasts.