UVT Aero flies to Munich: Tatneft prepares to lease three Embrаers
The oil company is agreeing with lawyers on the deal
After lasting depression of the ''oil'' hub south-east of Tatarstan, Tatneft is unfreezing investments and is ready to send up to 3bn rubles to renew flights to the most remote point of the region. According to Realnoe Vremya's sources' information, the oil company has approved the deal presupposing leasing of three used Embrаer-190 planes to give them to UVT Aero airline it holds. If the deal doesn't fail at the last minute, the construction of the second runway at the airport of Bugulma, which will be able to receive heavy planes, will begin in the spring. It's interesting that it's designed ''for the future'' and aimed to receive a new Russian MS-21 plane.
Course for Munich
UVT Aero airline, which is held by Tatneft structures, will soon announce the signing of a leasing deal to supply three Embraer E190 middle-range planes. The flight range of the Brazilian plane is up to 4,000 km, which enables the airline to start to develop a flight programme to Europe. Pegas Fly airline (Ikar) was first to receive the plane in Russia. The Russian Agency for Air Transport validated the certificate for the Brazilian regional planes 2 years ago.
''The deal is studied by lawyers,'' Director General of the airline Pyotr Trubayev confirmed the information to Realnoe Vremya. ''I don't have the right to reveal details until it's completed.''
In the meantime, the sources state it's not new but used planes. Their exact age is kept in secret. It's expected that UVT Aero will use the Brazilian planes to fly to Munich, which is considered a point of connected flights to Europe. Tatarstan Minister of Transport and Road Lenar Safin called the second quarter of 2019 as the most probable date for the launch of flights at a recent session of his ministry. He likely meant the launch of flights to Europe from this May, UVT Aero specified. Pyotr Trubayev confirmed that flights abroad will start with Munich.
With year of delay
As Realnoe Vremya had already told, UVT Aero was going to replenish its fleet with modern planes as early as a year ago. But then shareholders of the airline refused the deal at the last moment, so the launch of European destinations in the FIFA WC year was postponed indefinitely.
''The airline's beneficiary accepted none of the three options to renew the fleet offered by the management, while it's impossible to fly far without new planes,'' one of Realnoe Vremya's interlocutors revealed the cause of the delay.
''Indeed, we wanted to begin the upcoming ''golden'' season with new planes. But we should be self-critical: this certainly won't happen this year,'' said Trubayev then and specified it happened for causes that didn't depend on the airline. The airline's management, in turn, did its best to bring new planes. On 1 March 2018, the Russian Agency for Air Transport granted UVT Aero permission to fly to EU countries. ''The CRJ200 planes used today can fly just 2-2,500 km far. They can't fly far because of their technical characteristics. This is why we offered the shareholders to lease 4-5,000-km medium-range planes,'' the head of UVT Aero noted then.
The process of choosing the optimal scheme was polished in cooperation of the shareholders and the management. After that, it likely went to the government of Tatarstan for approval.
Shadow of VIM Airlines
The negative background around VIM Airlines' bankruptcy in 2017 also affected the refusal of the deal, the sources note.
''This situation arose because of a big debt to the Fuel Filling Complex, airports for servicing planes as well as lessors, this is why VIM Avia Airline PLC's planes stopped being serviced,'' head of the Russian Agency for Air Transport Aleksandr Neradko commented on the situation.
''To transport passengers of VIM Airlines, the Russian government adopted directives granting Aeroflot PLC the right to use its own money equal to up to 1,8bn rubles to finance the operational and financial activity of VIM Avia Airline PLC on the basis of written instructions of the Russian Agency for Air Transport with further compensation as mutual settlements of Aeroflot PLC with the sector,'' he told.
According to the market players, requirements for airlines' solvency were tightened. ''The changes made by the Russian Ministry of Transport to FAR-246 (Editor's Note: Federal Aviation Rules) presuppose higher responsibility of airlines if their solvency is unsatisfactory, including restricted validity of the certificate of the carrier if their solvency is unsatisfactory for a quarter and suspension of validity of the certificate of the carrier if their solvency is unsatisfactory for two quarters in a row,'' Neradko warned.
UVT Aero has still been developing as an operator of a subsidised air carriage programme. ''This year, 24 destinations from the republic's airports have been included to the list of subsidised flights, of which 18 are co-financed by Tatarstan. Another two co-financing destinations will be offered by UVT Airlines in the short run, it's Astrakhan and Yaroslavl. We hope the decision will be positive,'' noted Lenar Safin.
Last year, UVT Aero transported 235,000 passengers, the first international regular flight from Kazan to Batumi was launched. An entire fleet of Canadian CRJ-200 planes was purchased deliberately for the programme.
Second runway in Bugulma
If this time the leasing deal doesn't fail, Tatneft is going to allocate money on the new planes to build the second runway, whose construction remained uncompleted in the Soviet era. The current runway is able to receive only short-range planes like Yak-40, An-24, CRJ200, due to which the airport turned out outside the transit flow, and it favoured Begishevo. Now Tatneft can allocate up to 2bn rubles on this purpose, the sources claim.
''The construction project of the second runway is at the final stage,'' told Deputy Director of the airport of Bugulma Vladimir Dementiev to Realnoe Vremya. ''We plan it will get a state expert review by the spring, then some steps will begin. The runway will be 2,700 metres long, the width is 42 metres. The runway is designed for MS-21, the heaviest plane. There is a requirement for the runway foundation – it must support planes heavier than 70 tonnes. We hope we will develop, and if we design wider opportunities, it means we will be able to receive more advanced planes. We hope not only UVT Aero will fly to Bugulma, that there will be connected flights that fly to Kazan, Begishevo, Ufa and Samara. The current runway has limited possibilities.''
''Despite losses, the Tatarstan airline certainly should renew the fleet if it doesn't want to die,'' notes head of Infomost consultancy Boris Rybak. ''Airlines ended the last year with losses, and the upcoming year doesn't promise a profit, but they should renew anyway. It's hard to evaluate the cost of the deal of UVT Aero, but the monthly lease payment can total up to 100m rubles, which means the plane's load should be at least 80%. The destination of Munich is complicated, as many carriers work here and one can't do without partners.''