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“We transport up to 10 thousands of guests per year”

As a resident of the Torus "Kamchatka" helps to develop tourism in the region

The private helicopter company Vityaz-Aero has emerged as the leader of small aircraft in the Kamchatka Territory for several years. Today, rotary-winged cars of the resident of the Torus Kamchatka not only solve the acute problem of transport accessibility in the region, but also actively promote the tourist brand. Even one of its kind. A shaman, a husky, a bear, an eagle, and a gyrfalcon fly on board the helicopters Airbrushed livery fell in love with the inhabitants and guests of the peninsula.

“We transport up to 10 thousands of guests per year”
Photo: Photo courtesy of "Vityaz-Aero"
Vityaz-Aero started its business 10 years ago with three Mi-8 helicopters. In 2013, a merger with another private company, Kamchatka Airlines, took place. After the merger, the total fleet was already 25 rotary-wing aircraft. Today, the resident carries passengers throughout the region, including to remote villages, communication with which outside the season is possible only by air. "Vityazi" also fly to Paramushir Island (Kuril Islands).
The flights of local residents are subsidized by the government of the Kamchatka Territory, but initially, Viktor Sirotin, General Director of Vityaz-Aero Aviation Company, admits, the company was created for the sake of the tourist cluster.

- We ourselves were born and live in Kamchatka and we want this region to develop. And for this you need to attract guests here and provide them with quality services. Every year we invest from 50 to 100 million rubles in the development of our infrastructure. In 2018, our helicopters carried over 37 thousand passengers, of which 9,5 thousand are tourists. In March we start the season for extreme sports lovers - heli-skiing, then fishermen, hunters, then tourists in protected areas (there are volcanoes, the Valley of Geysers, Kuril Lake), again fishermen and hunters. So we fly until the end of October, - says the resident of the Kamchatka ASEZ.

According to him, the company receives tax preferences, but there are certain factors that affect the increase in the cost of the tour.

- The main component in the price of flights is aviation kerosene. By the end of 2018, it rose in price to 72 thousand rubles per ton. For example: in order to fly to the famous Valley of Geysers and back, you need to fill the Mi-8 tanks with at least 2400 kg. This affects the cost of the tour, for which the passenger ultimately pays out of pocket, explains the CEO of the company.

Vityaz-Aero's competitive advantage is its own small airport, built between Elizovo, where the main air harbor of Kamchatka is located, and the village of Paratunka. The terminal is considered one of the most comfortable and modern on the peninsula.

There is a cafe, free Wi-Fi, and a sample of the Mi-2 helicopter stands on the large station square. During the season, gazebos and souvenir shops are open for tourists.

- We take schoolchildren here on excursions, children can sit in the cockpit of the car in the pilot's seat, put on a headset, headphones. We show them the technical regulations. For example, as an aircraft is repaired, the engine changes. In general, I can say about our airport that there is no need to blush before foreign tourists, - says Viktor Sirotin.

Today Vityaz-Aero employs 234 people. In four years, the airline has employed 34 graduates of the Omsk Flight Technical College - the only one in Russia that graduates specialists in helicopter pilots, pilots and flight mechanics. The resident of the TOP is solving the personnel issue together with the Ministry of Education of the Kamchatka Territory, participating in the development of a program for the targeted sending of graduates of local schools to study outside the region. At the same time, the aircraft fleet is being renewed.

- We buy new helicopters and look after used versions with a minimum operational resource. We carry out overhauls at an aircraft repair plant in Tyumen - this reduces production costs and the time for aircraft repair, - emphasizes the head of the company Viktor Sirotin.

In 2018, Vityaz-Aero received two repaired, freshly painted helicopters from the UTair-Engineering aircraft repair plant. And in 2019, three more will arrive. In addition, the number of Kamchatka-style helicopters will increase from eight to 11.
This year, near the heliport in Nikolayevka, the company will begin construction of a runway for small aircraft. The volume of investments in the project will amount to 600 million rubles.

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