Holiday under question: VIM Airlines tourists are back home, but who will take others abroad?
Tour providers sold tours to Hainan from Kazan, but the question with the carrier is in the air
While some Russian tourists who had to prolong their holiday due to VIM Airlines' bankruptcy are back home, others nervously wait for their holiday. In addition, if earlier residents of Tatarstan were not directly affected by VIM Airlines' bankruptcy – only Inturist massively sold tours from Kazan and only to Crimea — there may be an addition to the victims in the autumn-winter season. The tour provider who decided to acquaint citizens of Kazan with a new destination – Hainan Island – sold almost all the tickets to the most proximate flight that was to be operated by VIM Airlines. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.
VIM Airlines doesn't fly but China is sold
Kazan tour providers have included a new destination to the 2017/18 season – Chinese Hainan resort where VIM Airlines was going to fly to by a coincidence of circumstances. The first flight is scheduled for 3 November and almost all the tickets on this day have been bought: according to the data of an online booking system, only 12 seats in Economy Class and 14 seats in Business Class of Boeing-777-200, which accommodates over 400 passengers, left.
''We had a seminar these days. We were said they would find an airline instead of VIM Airlines. But whom can they find for such a price?'' asks director of Another Dimension tourist agency Yulia Kaurova. Due to the problems with the airline, Kaurova doesn't run the risk of selling this destination to her tourists.''
VIM Airlines really had lower prices in comparison with its rivals: according to Vedomosti's interlocutors, an average Moscow-Antalya ticket is $250, VIM Airlines sold them $50-70 cheaper.
''Tour providers would not sell tickets of an airline that constantly delays flights if its prices were not so attractive,'' the newspaper's interlocutor says. According Yulia Kaurova, Hainan from Kazan is also sold for a fantastically low price. The price for a week tour for two people starts from 40,000 rubles. It is lower than the flight price.
Fail to find a substitution for VIM Airlines?
Pearl River Chinese tour provider services the new direction. Tours to Hainan from November are organised not only from Kazan but also Ufa, Tyumen and Saint Petersburg. Tours from Novosibirsk, Moscow, Mineral Waters, Rostov-on-Don, Ekaterinburg are scheduled from March. VIM Airlines was to operate all the flights. If time permits to find a substitution in spring, November tours are under question. Pearl River says to tourists that they look for an alternative airline.
''These days it will become clear what an airline you will fly with. We had Moscow and Petersburg confirmed – it is Rossiya Airlines. We are waiting for an answer about the carrier in regions during a week. It is problematic to change seats in six cities. Moscow and Petersburg were solved last week. Now regions wait. This is why wait,'' Pearl River's Customer Care Department says.
It is curious that in an article of Kommersant on 3 October, Commercial Director of the company Evgeny Kosinkov promised that the operator of flights from regions would be known 'till the end of the week''. ''In general, we don't consider anything like the absence of flights,'' he added.
It is said in the official comment on Pearl River's page that the tour provider started negotiations with several airlines on 20 September, including in China, about the organisation of an alternative carriage. It was written that Pearl River has enough resources to meet all the commitments without depending on the solution of the situation with VIM Airlines.
Evgeny Kosinkov asked Realnoe Vremya's reporter to wait until 11 October. ''We will comment after really signing a new operator. Let's wait until Wednesday,'' he said.
Chinese failure of VIM Airlines
VIM Airlines already failed Tatarstan. This summer the airline did not meet its commitments on Kazan-Beijing charter flights: only one plane flew to this destination in summer 2017. Chairman of the State Tatarstan Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov told about it during the online conference of Realnoe Vremya. He noted that Tatarstan was ready to support VIM Airlines to provide tourist traffic. According to Ivanov, next year the state committee will find a new airline as partner. Nowadays they had negotiations with two carriers. Ivanov did not name them but said Russia did not have so many airlines that could afford new foreign trips in summer.
VIM Airlines had grandiose plans for China. In October 2016, the airlines stated it obtained a permit from the Russian Air Travel Agency for flights from Kazan to not only Beijing but also Shenyang, Changshu and Xi'an. However, in fact, no flight to these destinations was performed.