No flights and revocation of flight permits for being late

After the story with VIM Airlines, the Russian Ministry of Transport started to correct mistakes

No flights and revocation of flight permits for being late Photo: Maksim Platonov

A project of the Russian Ministry of Transport on tightening sanctions for regular delays of international flights became a consequence of the crisis of VIM Airlines. According to the document, the ministry offers to increase the number of reasons to revoke the flight permit that was obtained earlier and reduce the number of flights to unpunctual airlines. Realnoe Vremya tells about the details of the bill and its evaluation.

Changes after VIM Airlines without delay

After the crisis of VIM Airlines that caused problems among a hundred of tourists who did not manage to fly to their homeland from abroad, go on holiday or just fly from their hometown in Russia to another one, the Russian Ministry of Transport very quickly prepared a project of the order on stricter responsibility for delays of international flights. A corresponding document appeared on the federal portal of projects of regulations. According to the project's certificate, it was created on 3 October, almost one week after Vladimir Putin publicly told Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov off for the situation of VIM Airlines and gave him a 'service incompetence note'.

The project with a long name 'On Changes in the Administrative Regulation of the Federal Air Transport Agency on State Servicing Allowing Carriers who Have Corresponding Licences to Perform International Air Carriage of Passengers and (or) Freight Approved by the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation as from 7 May 2015 No. 162' offers several changes at once:

Vladimir Putin publicly told Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov off for the situation of VIM Airlines and gave him a 'service incompetence note'. Photo: kremlin.ru

Particularly, it was added that the inter-agency commission could make a decision to restrict the frequency of flights in the permit to operate regular and charter flights that was given earlier during open voting for numerous delays of flights during this season because of the airline on the basis of materials provided by the Federal Air Travel Agency of Russia.

In addition, restrictions on the frequency of flights can be introduced against an air carrier in case of real performance of less than 80% of the total number of flights stated in the permit of the International Air Transport Association during two seasons because of the air carrier. But they are not to exceed the number of unused frequencies on a permanent basis.

Sanctions for unpunctuality down flight permit revocation

More drastic changes are also offered – to increase the number of reasons to revoke the permit that was granted earlier. For instance, an airline's permit is revoked if there were numerous delays of flights during two seasons in a row because of the airline or if the flights the permit was given for are not operated. The permit can also be revoked if the user's certificate to operate international flights had restrictions or was suspended.

This project doesn't consider the initiatives on raised fines for delays of flights, revocation and complete suspension of charter flights, which was discussed. We also need to note that we are talking about only international charter and regular carriages, while changes in the regulation of domestic flights are not considered.

We are talking about only international charter and regular carriages, while changes in the regulation of domestic flights are not considered. Photo: Maksim Platonov

An independent expertise of the project on changes is to end until 2 December 2017. Then it will be considered in the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. If the ministry approves it, it will be just necessary to create the final version of the document's text and make it come into force.

The suggested changes regulate the order of actions in case of possible situations that are similar to that of VIM Airlines because of the airlines' unpunctuality, however, as well as problems with payment of salary to its workers, which has been in the limelight during the last years.

Problems with openness and absence of financial 'airbag'

The Association of Tour Providers of Russia was also interested in stricter measures against the airlines that constantly 'pamper' their clients with delays. On 29 September, the organisation sent its offers to the Ministry of Transport to avoid stories that are similar with VIM Airlines in the future. The Association of Tour Providers of Russia suggested making airlines' permit issue procedure open for tour providers because today they don't have a possibility to check whether the stated carriage capacities correspond to real possibilities of an airline and publish important data about the parameters that characterise the carrier's real possibilities.

In addition, it is suggested to tighten the control of airlines by the Federal Air Transport Agency, create a reserve fund in the agency to finance charter flights if an airline is not able to meet its commitments. An analogous initiative with the fund was heard from director of the Federal Air Transport Agency Aleksandr Neradko.

This season VIM Airlines did not issue two-way tickets to its passengers even if all the flights were completely paid. Photo: amur.info

Concerning legislative changes, the Association of Tour Providers of Russia offered to fix equal responsibility and commitments of carriers in front of all the passengers and the compulsory requirement to issue two-way tickets to all charter flight passengers. If this requirement is not met, it is necessary to impose considerable fines for the carrier at the legislative level. The latest initiative was suggested because this season VIM Airlines did not issue two-way tickets to its passengers even if all the flights were completely paid.

International air carriages require control

Director General of UVT Aero Pyotr Trubaev whose airline is one of the most punctual companies in the Russian market says that the measures on stricter air carriage rules were expected after the situation with VIM Airlines.

''Almost every summer the tourist season is marked by failures in the transportation system of passengers. They are the people who suffer in the end, this is why order certainly needs to be kept,'' the newspaper's interlocutor comments on the situation.

In his opinion, if the bill of the Ministry of Transport is adopted, it will play a positive role while putting everything in order in international flights. We need to remind that chairman of Tulpar Aero Group Azat Khakim and executive director of AviaPort Oleg Ponteleyev also supported greater responsibility for delays of flights. The domestic flight market, in turn, doesn't have such problems like in the international one.

In Pyotr Trubaev's opinion, if the bill of the Ministry of Transport is adopted, it will play a positive role while putting everything in order in international flights. Photo: Maksim Platonov

''Let's say there is no bad situation that needs extraordinary measures in the domestic market. The Federal Air Transport Agency strictly controls carriers from a perspective of their financial state and performance of flights on time. Here the measures are different, they work,'' Pyotr Trubaev thinks.

Apart from the above-mentioned measures offered by the Russian Ministry of Transport, the director general of UVT Aero says it is also necessary to clearly regulate and meet commitments of an airline mentioned in the agreement with a tour provider, what the Association of Tour Providers of Russia speaks about. ''In my opinion, there is a lack of mutual responsibility there, this is such things happen,'' the expert says. He also agrees that it is necessary to create a reserve fund that would help an airline to cope with problems in air travel in case of emergency.

By Maria Gorozhaninova
Business Transport