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“Parts of our business no longer exist.”

Passenger transport enterprises in Kamchatka are forced to survive in conditions of coronavirus restrictions

Most of the economy of the Kamchatka Territory is tourism. Under the restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus, not only travel agencies, but also transport companies suffered in the region - there was no one to carry. How business survives in such conditions, said individual entrepreneur Oleg Pushaev.

“Parts of our business no longer exist.”
Photo: courtesy of Oleg Pushaev

Oleg Pushaev

individual entrepreneur in the field of passenger transportation

The main activity of our company is passenger transportation. Firstly, these are suburban routes between several settlements of the Kamchatka Territory (the village of Thermal, the city of Yelizovo, the city of Vilyuchinsk and Rybachy). Another part of the business is custom transport. This includes servicing enterprises, for example, fishermen come to Putin, we meet them at the airport and deliver them to their place of residence; There are enterprises that we serve on an ongoing basis - we carry workers in the morning and evening. Finally, there are travel companies that are activated, usually in the summer season. Now we can already say - “there were travel companies”, because many of their leaders today do not understand how they will continue to exist. Here the situation is the most difficult.

Our transport, which was booked by tour operators in late February and early March, is no longer needed. All travel agencies have refused the reservation, and today this part of our business simply does not exist. We also serve weddings - there are buses of the corresponding class, but now it is also unclaimed. We take the local population to Paratunka - to a recreation center in the suburbs of Petropavlovsk, where there are therapeutic thermal springs. In summer, people go to a sanatorium and relax on their own in nature. Russian and foreign delegations, athletes, and artists very often fly to Kamchatka. They also require various kinds of equipment for traveling, and our company can provide transportation services of a wide range.

Now mass events in which cars from our park were involved are not held - tourists do not fly to Kamchatka. Enterprises are undergoing reductions, and perhaps many will no longer order buses to transport their employees.

In our company, 15 employees are drivers, mechanics, dispatchers. Now business (and mine, and other entrepreneurs) is kept only thanks to good relations between people. All my employees understand what is happening in our field. I didn’t fire anyone, during a forced downtime, each of my workers goes about their business - someone builds a greenhouse in the country, someone just sits at home and repairs his car. And this has been happening for a month and a half. During this period, passenger traffic on some routes decreased to 70%. The reasons are clear - most enterprises, shopping centers, educational institutions are closed, and people simply have nowhere to go. In addition, now you can move around only with information, otherwise it is fraught with fines.

Now there are routes on which the bus makes one flight in the morning, and one in the evening. Drivers with such earnings barely make ends meet. Custom transportations did not become completely - this type of activity is not allowed. If any company has an objective need for transporting people - as, for example, with fishermen who flew to Putin - then we can work. This work is justified: fishermen must be met, taken to a recreation center in quarantine for two weeks, and then to a helipad or to another city where they will work. Vessels come from the field to change crew, our services are also needed here. But such orders are one-time, and they won’t do the weather in our business.

Our company, together with several other carrier enterprises, sent a collective appeal to the Ministry of Transport and Road Construction of the Kamchatka Territory. Specialists of the ministry, in turn, have already applied to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Kamchatka Territory. Our initiative was to abolish the transport tax for 2019 and 2020 for those involved in passenger transportation. We also applied for a grant to pay employees during a period of downtime.

The transport companies have another problem - many cars are taken on credit or on lease. But the leasing system is as follows: if you make a payment for a rented car every month, after two or three years it can be completely redeemed from the lessor. But if the lease payment is past due, the leasing company has every reason to terminate the contract and seize the car from the lessee (carrier); however, all previous payments are not refunded. Therefore, transport enterprises not only in Kamchatka, but throughout Russia, were in a very difficult situation. Leasing companies are not related to the state, they are commercial entities, and they are reluctant to restructure payments or provide deferral of payments. My fellow carriers from Primorye are currently going to sell their fleet of cars in order to be able to pay lease payments and save the rented buses.

The Russian Union of Travel Industry recently held an action under the slogan "State of the industry - SOS!" Carriers and tour operators from all over the country posted their posts with this inscription on instagram. Unfortunately, the tourism business cannot get out of the crisis independently. I really hope that our calls for help will be heard both at the local and federal levels.

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