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On Sakhalin spotted "Taiga" in muddy colors
Two planes with the brand of the future Far Eastern airline appeared on the island
Taiga's trail has appeared on the Internet. Several photos of airspotters have leaked onto the Web with images of Canadian aircraft in the livery of Taiga, a future Far Eastern airline that has not even been created yet. It turned out that the first "taiga" outfit was tried on new boards of a small Sakhalin company "Aviashelf". Why suddenly it was him, why in most of the photos of these aircraft the livery is neatly photoshopped and how this is connected with the large interregional bureaucratic "swing" - the EastRussia correspondent figured out.
The first two Taiga-branded aircraft arrived on the island in early October. The regional authorities kept silent about the colors, indicating on the official website only that the new aircraft arriving from Canada will operate flights on local air routes. It turned out that the aircraft were a new acquisition of the local company Aviashelf, which had previously operated only with helicopter technology.
The planes that arrived had original paintwork or livery. It is made in pastel pink color with the corporate logo - a bunch of larch needles and the Taiga inscription. As you know, an alliance of Far Eastern air carriers will start operating under the Taiga brand in the future. In addition to Aviashelf, it should be formed by the companies Yakutia, Polar Airlines, Alrosa, Aurora, Khabarovsk Airlines, and the Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise.
DHC-6-400 will be based in the main air harbor of Sakhalin. At the Yuzhno-Sakhalin airport, it was clarified that currently new aircraft through the Federal Air Transport Agency are undergoing the necessary registration procedure. The Ministry of Transport and Roads of the Sakhalin Region emphasized that the carrier itself will decide for what purposes to use the aircraft.
“The company acquired the aircraft on lease within the framework of its own investment program. Wherever she wants, they will fly there, ”said the Deputy Minister of Transport - Head of the Air Transport and Organizational Support Department Alexey Glaub.
In the Aviashelf itself, they refused to answer EastRussia's questions about the "taiga" sides. The company, referring to the general director Zakhar Khudenko, said that they were not ready to comment on anything yet.
The new activity of the carrier, whose activities are traditionally aimed at ensuring the work of operators of oil and gas projects and their contractors (Aviashelf is also involved in organizing passenger traffic with the Kuriles), can be attributed to the influence of Aurora's management. In particular, its head Konstantin Sukhorebrik was a co-founder of Aviashelf, and Zakhar Khudenko until recently worked as deputy general director of Aurora. It is known that the initial option for creating a unified Far Eastern airline was to consolidate assets on the basis of Aurora.
CHAIRS GIVE ECONOMY
DHC-6-400 aircraft with a capacity of 19 passenger seats can be delivered to new regular routes within the Sakhalin Region, including those subsidized by the region. The regional government has repeatedly voiced its intentions to restore the network of takeoff and landing sites on Sakhalin, which operated during the Soviet era. In the near future, it is planned to connect Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk by air with the airports in Zonal and Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, where it is possible to use DHC-6-400 capable of landing on unpaved airfields. The same plane, says the deputy of the Sakhalin region Alexander Bolotnikov, is also necessary for communication with Severokurilsk.
According to the parliamentarian, the use of a 19-seat aircraft can give bоGreater economic effect in comparison with other aircraft. Take, for example, the route Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - Shakhtersk, which is serviced by the Aurora DHC 8-Q300 aircraft, also made in Canada and designed for 50 seats.
“The occupancy rate of the flight was about 30%, in the best case - 50%. With a ticket price of two thousand rubles, the actual transportation of one passenger exceeded six thousand rubles. The regional budget compensated the carrier for this difference. But this is not profitable. If we put an aircraft with a lower passenger capacity on the route, it will fly to capacity, ”says Alexander Bolotnikov.
According to him, a meeting on the development of intraregional transportation is planned at the beginning of December at the Ministry of Transport of the Sakhalin Region, at which the discussion should focus on the operation of DHC-6-400 aircraft. In addition, he added, it is not yet known what mechanisms will be involved in the creation of the Far Eastern aviation association, how Aviashelf or the newly created Taiga company will interact with the same Aurora, other members of the future holding.
“I think that until recently there was no understanding on all these issues from the regional authorities and even federal authorities,” the deputy said. - We, as a region that owns 49% of Aurora (the rest of Aeroflot's shares - editor's note), whose financial assistance was carried out with the participation of the regional budget, are not very interested in taking this airline away from us. Will we win or lose from the unification? Will it not turn out that the new management will consider it more necessary to strengthen the carrier's position on other regional routes, and they will start to forget us? "
By the way, other Far Eastern regions, in particular, Yakutia, expressed their concerns. The republic offered its own version - to unite those who already work in the Far East and create, while retaining legal independence, an alliance like SkyTeam. The financial model of the association is currently being studied by the State Research Institute of Civil Aviation.
BETWEEN CZECH AND CANADIANS
Perhaps it is paradoxical that the first aircraft of the Taiga company were foreign-made aircraft, since one of the goals of creating a single Far Eastern carrier, according to federal officials, is the operation of new equipment from a domestic manufacturer. It was supposed to spend 30 billion rubles on the creation of the aviation association. As Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said earlier, by 2024 the alliance will acquire up to 60 SSJ-100 aircraft and 16 MS-21 airliners.
However, Far Eastern aviators need to update their fleet of smaller aircraft as well. In the absence of proposals from the domestic aviation industry, the renovation of aircraft of this type in the last 10-15 years has been actively carried out at the expense of foreign technology. Some carriers, when replacing obsolete ships An-24, An-26, An-28, Yak-40, relied on Canadian-made Bombardier DHC turboprop short-haul aircraft. The largest fleet of such vessels is at the disposal of Aurora. These are ten DHC-8s, including machines of the DHC 8-Q400 series (70 seats), DHC 8-Q300 (50 seats), DHC 8-Q200 (37 seats). The Aurora fleet also has three DHC-6 400 Twin Otters with a capacity of 19 passengers. They serve local traffic in the Primorsky Territory.
Another universal aircraft for local airlines is the twin-engine L-410 (L-410), once developed by the design bureau of the Czechoslovak plant Let Kunovice (now an asset of the Czech Aircraft Industries). It can also be operated on unprepared soil, grass and snow areas. Like the DHC-6 400 Twin Otter, the L-410 is designed to carry 19 passengers. The fleet of such aircraft, for example, is operated by the Khabarovsk Airlines KGUP.
In light of import substitution, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia supported the option of updating the fleet with Czech products, in contrast to the Canadian counterpart. The ministry pointed out that Aircraft Industries belongs to a Russian company - the Uralsk MMC, and in addition, the serial production of the L-410 is currently being developed on the basis of the Ural Civil Aviation Plant (UZGA).
It is important that this project is being led by a major player in the leasing market - PJSC State Transport Leasing Company (STLC). The STLC program for the development of the leasing of L-410 aircraft with state co-financing was launched in 2016. At the beginning of October 2020, the total investment in it amounted to seven billion rubles, including 4,2 billion rubles from budget funds. In total, 14 L-410 aircraft were delivered to lessees. One of the last recipients was Siberian Light Aviation (SiLA), which provides air transportation in the Magadan region. By the end of 2020, the lessor must transfer three L-410 aircraft from UZGA to it.
As the Minister of Transport and Road Construction of the Sakhalin Region Valery Spichenko told EastRussia, the fleet of the future air holding will be updated and expanded with domestic aircraft. However, at the stage of integration with the Far Eastern airline, local air carriers will cooperate with their aircraft, including foreign-made aircraft, that meet current needs.
“How much is said about the need to update the aircraft fleet in the Far East, during this time it would be possible to create our own production of aircraft for intraregional transportation, develop a type of aircraft for Far Eastern distances, albeit in partnership with foreign manufacturers, the same Canadians,” says Alexander Bolotnikov ...
At the same time, two aircraft projects are currently under development, which are ready to use the regions of the Far East. This is the Il-114-300, which is to replace the An-24 and An-26 - that is, aircraft with a capacity of 40-50 seats, and the TVS-2DTS Baikal (14 seats), which will replace the An-2.
However, the process of their creation is delayed. Thus, the serial production of "Baikal" at JSC "Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant" is planned to begin by 2023. It was believed that the enterprise would produce the first batch of aircraft for Polar Airlines in 2021.