Aurora Airlines (51% owned by Aeroflot, 49% – by the administration of Sakhalin region) will receive two regional aircraft DHC-6 Twin Otter 400 for developing local air connection, according to an agreement with the Corporation of the Sakhalin Region signed at the landside of the Eastern Economic Forum.
Addition of the new aircraft will allow the carrier to resume direct flights between its base airport in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and several destinations in the Far East of Russia, including Severo-Kurilsk, on Kuril Islands. To ensure smooth operation the carrier intends to open a line maintenance station for Twin Otters in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
The governor of the Sakhalin region, Oleg Kozhemyako said at the signing ceremony that aviation “is of strategic importance for the region”: more than 90% of all passengers use air transport to travel outside the region. Therefore, the regional administration provides “favorable terms” for the project’s financing.
Kozhemyako also stressed that the aircraft will be used for medical flights as well as for passenger service.
Aurora spokesperson earlier told Russian Aviation Insider that there had been plans to increase the Twin Otter fleet to 14 aircraft by 2018. The Canadian-made aircraft were expected to replace Antonov An-2 on local routes previously served by this classic Soviet single-engine biplane.
Today, the airline operates only two Twin Otters, both produced in 2013. A third aircraft of this type had been ready for service entry but due to changes in the operator’s financial situation its delivery was postponed. In parallel with the expansion of DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 fleet the airline planned to increase its fleet of Bombardier Dash 8-400Q aircraft.
Today Aurora operates 11 Dash 8 aircraft. In addition, there are 10 single-aisle Airbus A319 in the airline’s fleet. Recently the carrier decommissioned Boeing 737.
In January-July this year, passenger traffic of the airline, which serves Russia’s Far East regions, increased by 9.9% to 631,400 passengers (15th place by the number of passengers among Russian operators). The load factor decreased by 5.5 p.p. to 69.2%.
Aurora is one of three Russian Twin Otter operators. At the end of August, Krasnoyarsk-based AeroGeo registered its first DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft produced by Viking Air, in its Air Operator Certificate. The aircraft is one of the batch of ten, ordered by Rosneft oil company to be delivered until 2017. The third operator is ChukotAvia.
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