Luck by fifth jubilee: how UVT Aero gets biggest subsidies before crisis

The support the airline has received in 2018-2020 has been over 3 billion rubles

Luck by fifth jubilee: how UVT Aero gets biggest subsidies before crisis
Photo: Maksim Platonov

A new republican commercial airline was created in Tatarstan 5 years ago — UVT (stands for Southeast of Tatarstan in Russian) — that was to replace Ak Bars Aero, which went bankrupt, in the market. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report about the uneasy journey of the Tatarstan airline, specifics of the business and twin companies in the Tatarstan sky.

Goal — profit

“We began with seven planes — it was Bombardiers CRJ-200,” Director General of UVT Aero Pyotr Turbayev remembers the first days of work in the company in a talk with Realnoe Vremya. “We keep using these planes. Plus, we had a Bell 429 helicopter then, and there were two of them by early 2020. The geography of flights we operate — from Krasnoyarsk to Kaliningrad and from Salekhard to Makhachkala in general — is over 60 destinations.”

The carrier assures that the company’s profitability has been steadily growing in the last five years, and this has become the main sign of the project’s success:

“We have been operating profitably since the second year of existence, and the profit is quite significant, especially in 2029.”

UVT Aero received a certificate of used on 8 July 2015, a week later it obtained a licence to operate regular and charter passenger flights as well as a licence to operate regular and charter cargo flights. The first flight en route Bugulma — Moscow — Bugulma took place on 17 July 2015, the first flight Kazan — Moscow (Vnukovo) — Kazan was on 24 July 2015, permission for international flights was received on 15 September 2017, and the first international charter flight to Karaganda (Kazakhstan) was operated on 11 October 2017.

A lot turned on the choice of destinations, Pyotr Turbayev says, “according to existing demand”. Photo: Maksim Platonov

UVT Aero was awarded Bombardier Aerospace’s international award in The Most Reliable Airline in European Region during the second year of its existence, on 16 May 2017. In 2018, UVT Aero was recognised leader in punctuality by Domodedovo airport in its category four times.

Load is high even now

A lot turned on the choice of destinations, Pyotr Turbayev says, “according to existing demand”:

“The specifics of our flights don’t depend on crises a lot, we mostly fly to the North, transport oil workers. And during the period of holidays, they all go back to the mainland. And our load in these flights is always high. Nadym has refused now, but the load is high even now, in the low season — 70%.”

According to the airline, a decree of the Russian government as of 2013 that allows subsidising domestic flights became great support for all regional airlines. And UVT Aero managed to bite the biggest piece of this pie:

“Almost all of our flights are subsidised. In 2020, we will work by this principle. We received the biggest subsidies from all Russian companies this year.”

“It’s Turbayev’s personal merit”

According to Director General of Kazan Aviation Enterprise Magomed Zakarzhayev, UVT Aero occupied a popular and simultaneously very risky niche in the market of flights:

“Regional passenger flights are simply impossible today without subsidies, preferences and tax concessions. This will probably become possible when the population’s well-being significantly increases. I am emphasising the word “significantly”. Then we will fly even to the smallest settlements of the country like in the United States. And now, if those who receive a salary of 17,000 rubles are considered the middle class in Russia, such a middle class can only walk.”

Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor said that he had made an attempt at entering the market of regular passenger domestic flights earlier with Il-410 planes, however, his 10-year effort wasn’t successful:

“We didn’t manage to get federal subsidies. We had been flying for some time at the peril (Editor’s Note: of going bankrupt), and I am very glad that [consequently] there was adopted such a serious programme. Unfortunately, it was so late, we had lost a lot over these years. And I am glad that UVT Aero managed to take advantage of it. I think it is both Trubayev and the Transport Ministry’s big personal merit. Now we are waiting for this company to be rearmed. I hope they will be able to get more modern and big planes. If the subsidies don’t stop, I am sure everything will be fine.”

According to him, the company works with a surplus, which totalled over a 500 billion rubles last year: “We cooperate with it, we are friends, and I wish it new successes and new heights”.

Advanced issues found
“This project is complex commercially. Nevertheless, they managed to obtain the subsidies and became profitable, and it is a serious achievement,” Director of Tulpar airline Azat Khakim agrees with Zakarzhayev on his evaluation of UVT Aero. “As far as I am concerned, plans for technical rearmament of the company, a possibility of switching to bigger Embraer planes are discussed now. And I am glad for them!”

In 2018-2020, the airline has received almost 3,08 billion rubles of subsidies from the federal budget. In 2018, it got “just” 477,6 million, a year it did — 1,217 billion.

“We don’t have pilots who purchased their certificates”

“We announced at the very beginning that we worked with absolutely new approaches from a perspective of flight safety, professionalism, quality technical maintenance,” Trubayev claimed. “Our pilots are highly qualified. We don’t have pilots who purchased their certificates — they all studied in aviation colleges or came from other airlines with enough experience and qualification.”

The head of the airline assured the pilots were “carefully examined when they are hired, moreover, the Interregional Territorial Administration of Civil Aviation and the prosecutor’s office examine them”.

According to Trubayev, the pilots are about 40 years on average — they are “young enough” for civil aviation today.

By Inna Serova