A new airline called WeGo Air – which, it is hoped, will become the base carrier at Zhukovsky Airport (ZIA) – is to enter the Russian air travel market and is being prepared to start operations next April, initially by launching charter flights from the Moscow gateway using four Airbus A320 aircraft.
According to an industry source, the WeGo Air project is backed by the management board of Ramport Aero, operator of Zhukovsky, and Lithuania’s Avia Solutions Group (ASG), which initially participated in the launch of Ramport Aero but recently backed out, selling its 22.5 per cent share in the business.
Thus, as expected, Zhukovsky is creating its own carrier, which would base its fleet at the airport.
There is clear evidence of ASG’s participation in the new airline project. Firstly, WeGo Air’s Moscow address is shared by the Russian office of ASG. Secondly, the airline’s heavy maintenance will reportedly be outsourced to ASG’s Lithuania-based maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) subsidiary FL Technics, with line maintenance also to be performed by the company in Russia. FL Technics has recently opened a line station at Zhukovsky.
Furthermore, the Internet domain for WeGo Air was initially registered by Latvian airline SmartLynx, an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) wet-lease specialist and charter provider. Market insiders say that SmartLynx, which is owned by the Netherlands-registered company that is closely associated with Avia Solutions Group, operates a fleet of 16 Airbus A320/A321s, and is expected to supply such aircraft to WeGo Air.
Wego is not a new name to the market. It is also currently also used by an on-line travel service provider that specialises in the sale of airline tickets and hotel reservations. Russian speaking visitors to the company’s website are automatically redirected to Zhukovsky as the departure airport.
Because of the restrictive requirements of the aviation authorities, it is quite a challenge to obtain a new Air Operator’s Certificate in Russia and the usual practice for Russian start-up airlines is to acquire a minor carrier along with its valid AOC. According to Russian Aviation Insider’s information, that path has also been chosen by WeGo Air, which has reportedly acquired the St Petersburg-based helicopter operator Severo-Zapad.
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