Tulpar Air represented at RUBAE 2021 exhibition

The only specialised exhibition of business aviation in Russia and the CIS once again has brought together industry leaders at the site of Vnukovo-3

Tulpar Air represented at RUBAE 2021 exhibition
Photo: Tulpar Aero Group

As part of the celebration of 30th anniversary, one of the key participants in the Russian aviation market — Tulpar Group — is taking part in the 15th International business Aviation Exhibition RUBAE (Russian Business Aviation Exhibition) these days. The exhibition started on September 8 in Vnukovo-3. How the business aviation industry “is feeling” , what opportunities Tulpar provides to its customers, as well as how the 30-year evolution of the company was going on — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Tulpar Aero Group is in the centre of business aviation of Russia

There are a lot of “lacquered” planes in Vnukovo-3 on a typical day, since it is the centre of business aviation flights among Moscow airports. Especially at the beginning of September, because at this time the annual RUBAE exhibition (formerly Jet Expo) takes place, which gathers “under one wing” the world's leading manufacturers of business jets, airlines, brokers, service companies, and, of course, customers who appreciate private flights. The organisers of the event claim: “Now the industry needs support and development more than ever, so we are happy to provide ideal conditions for meeting all representatives of the business aviation industry. Within three days, the participants and visitors will be presented with new projects, rich business programme and much more.”

Tulpar Aero Group is an active participant of the annual RUBAE 2021 Business Aviation Exhibition and Forum. Photo: Tulpar Aero Group

“There is no spare or easy money in Tulpar and there has never been, so we approach all spending thoroughly. We take part only in key exhibitions that have proven the effectiveness of their site. In March — the exhibition on aircraft maintenance and repair, in May — helicopter one, in September — on business aviation. Well, we attend MAKS every two years," Azat Khakim, the founder and chairman of the board of directors of Tulpar Air, comments on participation in RUBAE.

According to Khakim, business aviation in 2021 has gained an unprecedented height, restoring pre-crisis traffic volumes and increasing the volume of deliveries of aviation equipment. There is an active demand in the market for the purchase and sale of aircraft and helicopters: both new and resource-based equipment are purchased. With such a rise in the market, the most experienced and professional players have an advantage — the created conditions attract customers. This year's RUBAE exhibition is no exception. The rich business programme has attracted not only industry professionals, but also the end users of services.

Business aviation in 2021 has gained an unprecedented height, restoring pre-crisis traffic volumes. Photo: Tulpar Air Airline

“The demand for charter services is actively developing one of the components of the business aviation segment — aircraft maintenance. Previously, there was a practice of business jet owners to send their aircraft for maintenance abroad, now there is a sufficient number of highly professional service centres that can fill vacant niches. The business aviation aircraft and helicopter maintenance segment is definitely going to show double-digit growth rates in the next few years.

Tulpar Group of Companies provides a comprehensive approach to the operation and maintenance of aircraft. Including the repair, modernisation, development and creation of aircraft interiors. Photo: Tulpar Technic

Let us remind that Tulpar provides a range of services for owners and operators of business jets and helicopters: flight and technical operation, charter and corporate air transportation, maintenance and repair, modernisation, aviation interiors. The high quality and level of security of the services provided are noted at the highest level from year to year. Tulpar Air airline and Tulpar Technic are the winners of domestic and international industry competitions.

It is also noteworthy that in the first year of the epidemic of new coronavirus infection, when the communication between regions and countries fell to a historic low (according to the Association of Air Transport Operators of Russia, in the first half of 2020 alone, the volume of passenger traffic of Russian airlines decreased by half, while domestic passenger traffic fell by 42,5%, and international — by 64,3% — editor's note), and the operating loss of only 35 of the country's largest passenger airlines exceeded 121 billion rubles, Tulpar Air not only continued to fly, helping the business to merge the torn business ties, but also increased its activity. The airline increased the volume of air traffic by 5,1% in 2020 and by almost 30% in the first half of 2021.

Azat Khakim: “We have serious plans to increase charter flights and maintenance volumes.” Photo: Maksim Platonov

“The number of orders has increased, there has become more work, as the need for charter flights has increased. This is very simply explained: flight routing and the number of flights of airlines flying on regular flights have significantly decreased. Plus, the risk of getting infected in crowded places also pushes people to use a charter flight. Using any crisis as an opportunity is a feature of Tulpar Group. We have serious plans to increase charter flights. If before the crisis we mainly specialised in corporate services, now we have entered the market and are actively flying," Azat Khakim shared in an interview with Realnoe Vremya, summing up the results of 2020.

It is safe and secure in the sky, like at home

The history of Tulpar Group began not even in 1991, when, against the background of the economic collapse in the post-Soviet space, bankruptcies and the shutdown of science facilities and design bureaus, test pilot Azat Khakim decided to lease a Yak-40 and engage in private transportation, thereby laying one of the first bricks in the foundation of the fundamentally new industry for Russia — business aviation, but even 30 years earlier.

In the spring of 1961, the capsule with dog Chernushka landed in the Zainsky district. From that moment, his aviation history began for Azat Khakim. Photo: zainsk-inform

“My personal history of aviation began in 1961, when I was 6 years old. That year, an incredible event happened in Zainsk: dog Chernushka landed from space. A lot of planes flew to our small city in search of the spacecraft. I had the impression that the whole sky was in airplanes. This vivid memory remained in the subconscious and aroused interest in aviation," Azat Khakim told Realnoe Vremya in the interview. “Finally, the desire to fly was formed by the age of 14, after watching the film 'Untriable' and graduating from high school, when I got to the aviation training centre in Kurkachi.

Finally, Azat Khakim's desire to fly was formed by the age of 14. Photo from the personal archive of Azat Khakim

Then a year of training flights, service in the army, where he flew MiG-15 and MiG-17, then — studyies at the Buguruslan Flight School, work at the Kazan United Aviation squadron of the test pilot school, work at the Sokol Design Bureau — testing aviation equipment. The collapse of the Soviet Union put an end to this stage of the businessman's life, when scientific institutions, including design bureaus, were among the first to suffer from the termination of funding. The test pilot was forced to get behind the wheel of a taxi to make ends meet, and then decided: enough is enough!

“I came to the idea that with such experience, with three diplomas, despite the difficulties, it is a sin not to engage in aviation. I rented a Yak-40 aircraft, and the history of Tulpar began with it, which has grown today to a large aviation holding company. In those days, cargo planes were required to deliver goods. As I remember now, the first flight was carried out from the city of Kyzyl, they transported mink skins. It was hard to call it even a business. Rather, the attempts to earn something on one plane," he shared his memories of the first years of work.

TAIF is our strategic partner

“We must pay tribute to that the strategic partnership with the giant such as TAIF also contributed to the success of Tulpar. To date, TAIF owns 51% in Tulpar Air, and 27% of shares in Tulpar Technic. Certainly, the partner affects our business — we have a constant workload. Besides, the fact that such a powerful company works with us is an excellent advertisement. In general, we started cooperating with TAIF in the late 1990s," recalls Azat Khakim. “At first, these were ordinary charter flights, then they switched to a contractual basis. The plans of the TAIF leaders have always included aviation — the development of aviation in Tatarstan as a whole. In the spring of 2011, when the parties agreed on a deal and TAIF received a stake in Tulpar Air and Tulpar Technic, in response, Tulpar Technic received a long-term lease of hangars, in which aircraft maintenance is carried out today.

Why did TAIF choose particularly us? Probably because we have never cared so much about high ratings and indicators. The quality and safety of flights have always been the priority of our activities. Thank God that we agreed on this understanding.

Joint plans of TAIF Group and Tulpar Technic include expanding opportunities at the Kazan International Airport. Photo: Realnoe Vremya

Eight areas of activity

According to Azat Khakim, all directions that are now in Tulpar now were originally created not so much for commerce, but to cover their own needs. In the 1990s, the situation in aviation, and in the country as a whole, left much to be desired. Therefore, in parallel with the flight business, other areas were immediately developed: maintenance and repair of aircraft, interior design, modernisation of aircraft.

“In the late 1990s, we worked very much abroad. There were a lot of flights, and the interiors very quickly fell into disrepair — they had to be changed. At that time, only aircraft factories had certificates for such activities, and the Minsk Aircraft Repair Plant worked on our types of aircraft. When we arrived at the factory and told what we needed, we were faced with a misunderstanding. We left the order and came back a month later to see what it resulted in. They did the opposite… People had never seen this and could not imagine how it was supposed to be. Then I realised that we would have to do it ourselves," recalls Azat Khakim.

Today, three companies at once are responsible for the interior direction: Tulpar Interior Group, Helicopters-MI KNPP, and a new one — Tulpar Interiors Engineering Design, mainly specialising in interiors for water and land transport.

Mi-8 helicopter configuration in VIP-class cabin. Photo: Tulpar Interior Group

“The fate of this direction developed in an interesting way. Imagine, it was the Kazan scientific and production enterprise Helicopters-MI, which we acquired in 2018, that was the first on the domestic market in 1975 to modernise the interior of the Mi-8 passenger helicopter, in 1981 — the flying hospital helicopter, and in 1997 — the helicopter in the “salon” variant, and for many years they made aviation interiors... It turns out that the Helicopters-MI KNPP is a kind of distant progenitor of Tulpar in the interior direction.

In the conversation, Azat Khakim also explained what was the benefit of creating several enterprises.

“Our customers — especially the owners of Bombardier aircraft — are now in very favourable conditions. The authorised service centre for the maintenance and repair of commercial and business jets of Tulpar Technic is located in Kazan. Taking into account the expanded competencies of Tulpar Technic, many works on periodic forms of aircraft maintenance take place in Kazan, we rarely fly abroad. The presence of an aircraft for maintenance in Kazan gives the opportunity to perform work on the interior part in parallel. Thus, the downtime of an aircraft and the owner's costs for transporting abroad are reduced.

When asked whether the Tatarstan market is not narrow, he noted that Tulpar covers the needs of customers not only in the republic, but also in other regions of Russia. For this, two more airlines — Tulpar Express and Jet Express — are based at other airports in Russia.

Anniversary in a new format

The difficult epidemiological situation has made adjustments to the plans of Tulpar to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The idea of celebration in a restaurant was abandoned. As Azat Khakim noted, the health and safety of employees, partners and colleagues is come first.

“But we found another, I think, even more long-playing and memorable option: we published two books — From BLERIOT to TULPAR (chronicle of Kazan aviation from 1910 to the present day) and Flying Frames and Other Unusual Aircraft. The co-author was the well-known person in the aviation circles of the republic — Ravil Veniaminov. His personality is no less interesting than the books themselves. An enthusiastic person, despite the lack of aviation education, had been collecting the history of aviation literally bit by bit for more than 30 years. He has dozens of books and publications to his credit. I myself took up this project with great inspiration. Not only because I wanted to tell about Tulpar on the pages of the book, but also because my two great hobbies came together in this project in an amazing way: aviation and history," said Azat Khakim.

By its 30th anniversary, Tulpar had published two books: From BLERIOT to TULPAR (chronicle of Kazan aviation from 1910 to the present day), and Flying Frames and Other Unusual Aircraft. Photo: Roman Khasaev

He expressed confidence that these books will be interesting and useful to a wide range of readers. Especially for those boys and girls who, just like he himself once, have been dreaming about the sky since childhood. At the same time, Tulpar is doing everything possible to ensure that there are more and more such people every year. For many years, it has been actively cooperating with the Kazan Lyceum No. 83, Laishevsky Technical and Economic College, Kazan Aviation Institute.

New ideas and projects appear in Tulpar with enviable regularity. The group lives and develops following after, and often ahead of the trends of the time. There is a lot to grow and what to strive for, which means that there will be something to tell about in the materials dedicated to the upcoming anniversaries of the company.

  • Ruslan Shigabutdinov

    Ruslan Shigabutdinov Director General of TAIF JSC

    Dear Mr Khakim,

    On my own behalf and on behalf of TAIF Group, we congratulate you and in your person all the employees of the airline on the anniversary date — the 30th anniversary of its formation!

    Over the past years, the company has passed a long and rich path of development. Today, Tulpar Air is a recognised flagship of business aviation. Sincere love for your work, professionalism and competence of employees, as well as concern for the safety of passengers have earned you the fame of a responsible air carrier. You can rightfully be proud of the high level and quality of aviation services.

    We are sincerely glad that the company is celebrating its 30th anniversary on the rise, confidently implements promising projects, sets high standards for the quality of services and therefore deservedly enjoys the trust of customers.

    May you have clear and bright horizons for development ahead of you, and every next anniversary will be marked by new brilliant victories and professional achievements for the benefit of our country!

    Peace, kindness and prosperity to you and your loved ones!

  • Ayrat Safin

    Ayrat Safin Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhi PJSC

    Dear Mr Khakim,

    On behalf of the many thousands of employees of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC and on my own behalf, I sincerely congratulate the Tulpar team on a significant date — the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the airline.

    The dynamic pace of development, ambitious plans, modern aircraft and professional team ensure the leading positions of Tulpar Air in the air transportation market, as well as the provision of maintenance and repair services for Tulpar Technic aircraft at a high professional level.

    I sincerely wish your company further successful development and prosperity, and the team — good health, well-being and achievement of all the goals set.

  • Farid Minigulov

    Farid Minigulov Director General of Kazanorgsintez PJSC

    Dear Mr Khakim,

    I sincerely congratulate you and the entire staff of the airline on the 30th anniversary!

    Tulpar Aero Group employs not only professionals who can masterfully reduce time and distances, but also experts in their field who care about the safety and comfort of passengers during travel and business trips. The undeniable professionalism of the employees, skillful management and rich experience allow you to solve the most ambitious tasks facing the company and look to the future with confidence.

    Please accept my most sincere congratulations on the occasion of the anniversary and wishes for new achievements, stability and prosperity. To all employees — health, happiness and well-being!

Arseny Favstritsky

Tulpar Group is engaged in the implementation of charter flights, flight and technical operation of aircraft and helicopters, maintenance and repair of aircraft, design, production and installation of VIP cabins of aircraft. Annual turnover is about 2,5 billion rubles.

Azat Khakim. He was born on February 14, 1955 in the Zainsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan. In 1978, he graduated with honours from the Buguruslan Flight School. In the Kazan United Aviation Squadron, he worked as a co-pilot, Yak-40 crew commander. In 1984, he was invited to the Sokol Design Bureau as a test pilot and remained there until 1994. In 1985, he graduated from the History and Philology Department of the Kazan State University extramurally. In 1991, he created the Tulpar airline. From 1997 to 2001, he directed the Kazan International Airport.