VIM Airlines to cull charter flights as anti-crisis measure

VIM Airlines is still alive but barely kicking The Transport Ministry promised to arrange for all of the carrier's charter passengers to be brought home (VIM Airlines)

Russia’s VIM Airlines, which is facing massive schedule disruptions due to accumulated debts, has been obliged to stop its charter program and focus on operating scheduled flights, the Transport Ministry has announced. The decision was imposed on the airline by the anticrisis working group; the carrier agreed to comply.

Commenting on the measure, the Transport Ministry said VIM Airlines was lacking financial resources to continue serving charter passengers.

“[We have] run out of operational assets, external financing has been frozen and airports have suspended their services [to us],” the airline admitted.

The Federal Air Transport Agency (FATA) points out that airports both inside and outside Russia refused to provide ground handling services to the carrier’s aircraft, and that the operator’s outstanding lease payments are so high that its fleet is running a threat of being impounded.

VIM says it is conducting negotiations with financial institutions and hopes to receive government support. Vedomosti daily reports that the airline has solicited state guarantees in an undisclosed amount. FATA also decided to find funds to cover the airline’s refueling and ground handling fees. It is understood that the money will come from outside the federal budget, but no sources have been identified yet. The expenditures will be monitored by a team of external managers.

All the VIM Airlines passengers will be brought back from their holiday destinations by other operators. Seven airlines have committed to the task: Ural Airlines, iFly, Red Wings, NordStar, Pegas Fly, Nordwind, and Yakutia Airlines. These airlines are expected to be reimbursed from the federal budget to the tune of around 200 million roubles ($37 million) in total in 2018. Russia’s Royal Flight and Azur Air, as well as Greece’s Ellinair, have also been helping in bringing VIM Airlines’ charter clients home.

VIM’s scheduled business, which accounted for over 80% of all of the carrrier’s operations in the first half of this year, will also get a boost from partner airlines, particularly on routes inside Russia, the Transport Ministry says.

The ministry emphasized that all of VIM Airlines’ Moscow routes will now be handled by Vnukovo Airport. “All of our operations will be from Vnukovo until all our passengers have returned,” the airline confirms. “Our aircraft will be based at Vnukovo.” Vim’s primary airport Domodeovo has suspended services over the airline’s piling debts.

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