Magadan SiLA airline launched flights in Siberia

SiLA made its first flight in Siberia to Abakan SiLA made its first flight in Siberia to Abakan (Photo by Abakan Airport)

Russia’s largest Antonov An-28 turboprop operator SiLA (Siberian Light Aviation airline, registered in Magadan, Russia’s Far East) started regional flights in the country’s Siberian Federal District. The airline has based a couple of 17-seater An-28s in Tomsk’s Bogashevo airport for this purpose.

The carrier will perform flights from Tomsk to Abakan, Barnaul and Novosibirsk – six turnaround flights in total every week. It plans to increase flight frequency on all destinations during the summer schedule to three flights per week.

The realization of this program became possible due to support from the Russian government. The flights to Abakan and Barnaul are 50% subsidized from the federal budget, the rest of the money is allocated on a parity basis depending on the destination by the authorities of Tomsk region, Altai Territory and Khakassia.

SiLA made the first flight under the ‘SiLA in Siberia’ transportation program on January 23. Its An-28 flew to Abakan, the capital city of Russian Khakassia region, with 15 passengers aboard, reported Abakan airport.

According to the rules of subsidizing, Novosibirsk Tolmachevo airport is considered to be an air hub that’s why the flight from Tomsk to Novosibirsk is 100% subsidized from the federal budget. Tomsk airport representative stresses that SiLA schedule has been calculated to be most convenient to the passengers. “So, for example the flights to Novosibirsk are performed in the evening allowing to catch the most connecting flights to the most popular destinations from this large air hub. Both inbound and outbound flights between Tomsk and Novosibirsk are aligned with the flights to Ufa, Nizhnevartovsk, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg, Yakutsk, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Beijing and, of course, Moscow as the evening flights to the capital of Russia are quite popular among Tomsk residents. Without a direct flight the route through Novosibirsk makes a comfortable enough alternative at acceptable prices”, – says the airport representative.

Bogashevo used to be the base airport for Tomsk Avia airline that operated inter alia the same destinations of Siberian Federal District as SiLA does now. In 2015 Tomsk Avia left the market due to financial problems.

As of December 2016, SiLA had sixth An-28s included into its own Air Operator Certificate. The airline will carry out independent line maintenance of its two airframes in Tomsk airport, to carry out periodic maintenance checks the operator will attract external providers.

“Our technical team will be present in Tomsk and will carry out the necessary works. To perform periodic maintenance checks the aircraft will fly to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky or Vologda. Perhaps, we will make a base in Novosibirsk, Irkutsk or Tomsk – we are evaluating the necessity of the step now”, – Andrey Bogdanov, SiLA airline CEO, told Russian Aviation Insider.

To carry out the flight program from Bogashevo SiLA may also attract Let L-410 turboprop aircraft, Federal Air Transport Agency data suggest. Bogdanov clarified that the airline has an agreement with Kamchatka Air Enterprise that flies five L-410s, to jointly operate the routes. “We have an experience of operating their aircraft to fly from Magadan that’s why we have foreseen such opportunity on flights from Tomsk. However we will resort to operating a third party’s aircraft only in an emergency situation”, he said.

For now the carrier bases the other four An-28 aircraft in Magadan airport. SiLA uses them to carry out its “domestic” regular flights program. An-28s carry passengers from the region’s capital to the remote settlements in the North of the region – Seimchan, Susuman and Omsukchan (five turnaround flights in total every week). These flights are subsidized by the local government. According to Magadan’s Ministry of Road Industry, Transport and Communications within a nine month period of 2016 (no up-to-date data yet) SiLA carried 5930 passengers on these flights.

SiLA An-28 logged 35-50 flight hours per month in 2016. “Our aircraft have relatively small flight hours that’s why our fleet is 100% operable and flight availability”, Bogdanov remarked.

By Artyom Korenyako

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