The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (FATA) ruled on July 1 that the air operator’s certificate (AOC) of Russian charter carrier IFly shall expire on July 15, 2016, due to the airline’s failure to maintain the minimum required number of airliners in its fleet. IFly expects to settle the problem shortly.
As per the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAP 246), an AOC is valid indefinitely, unless officially restricted, suspended, or revoked by the authorized agency. FATA took the decision to restrict the validity period based on the results of a planned inspection of the IFly facilities, and proceeding from an assessment of the carrier’s financial standing.
IFly General Manager Sergey Radchenko agrees the FATA was right to rule the way he did, but says he is optimistic about the airline‘s ability to settle the matter: “All we need to do is rectify the violation by July 15. We are still waiting for a delayed aircraft delivery; the airliner was originally expected to depart [for Russia] yesterday [June 30].”
Radchenko stresses that his company acted timely on all the other criticisms voiced by FATA following the inspection, and notified the agency accordingly. As for IFly’s financial standing, he points out that even the leading airlines are experiencing difficulties right now.
The FAP 246 regulations read that, in order to be cleared to perform charter operations with airliners seating over 20 passengers, a Russian carrier needs to have at least three such aircraft in its fleet. For purposes of the regulations, the number of aircraft is inferred from the carrier’s operational schedule.
According to the FATA database, IFly’s fleet comprises three airliners: two Boeing 757-200s and a single Airbus A330-300. At the end of 2015, the carrier had four aircraft: two 757-200s (EI-DUC and EI-EWT), and two A330-300s (EI-FBU and EI-ETI).
The list of active airworthiness certificates published by FATA on June 28 does not mention EI-ETI.
The online aircraft information service Flightradar24 contains no information about any recent flights performed by the Boeing 757-200 under EI-DUC registration. According to open sources, the airliner is currently owned by an Icelandic carrier and is registered as TF-ISR. If this information is correct, it means that IFly’s current fleet comprises one 757-200 and one A330-300.
Radchenko says the documents his carrier originally submitted to FATA contained information about four airliners, because IFly at the time was expecting to receive one more Boeing 757 and another Airbus A330.
“That we reached an agreement on this follows from a protocol signed with FATA. [Delivery of the carrier’s new 757] has been delayed; we are hoping that it will depart today [July 1]. A 24-hour delay is bad as it is. [The certificate is valid] until July 15. If [the airliner] is delivered within the next several days, and we put it on revenue flights, then the [certificate] restrictions will be lifted.”
Radchenko says the additional Airbus A330 is to replace its current example of the type, EI-FBU, whose lease agreement is nearing expiration. “So we will substitute it with another A330, as per our agreement with the lessors. We are getting a good airliner, in excellent condition, it has just been through scheduled maintenance. It was previously operated by Thomas Cook.”
IFly was set up in the interest of Russian tour operator Tez Tour, and performed its inaugural revenue flight to Antalya, Turkey, on December 4, 2009. The charter airline carried 96,000 passengers in the first five months of 2016, or 44% down year-on-year. Radchenko says the airline currently performs domestic flights to southern regions of Russia, and also operates international routes, mostly to Chinese destinations.
According to Flightradar24, IFly primarily operates its 757-200 domestically, whereas its A330 is mostly used on international routes.
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