Three ex-VIM Airlines Boeing 777s destined for IrAero
Russia’s IrAero airline will receive three Boeing 777-200 aircraft that were previously operated by the now-defunct VIM Airlines. They will become the first widebody airliners in IrAero’s fleet. They are being acquired under operation leasing for five years and should join IrAero’s fleet in April and May of this year.
The Irkutsk-based airline will use the newly acquired aircraft to transport Chinese tourists to and from Russia. On February 26 Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency approved IrAero to operate once weekly flights to China on 14 routes out of Moscow and 5 out of St. Petersburg.
Currently Moscow’s Vnukovo airport is considered the most likely future base for IrAero’s 777s. Line maintenance for the aircraft will be carried out by Russian MRO provider UTG Maintenance & Engineering, which just opened a new line maintenance station at Pulkovo airport, in St. Petersburg. The aircraft will be painted into IrAero livery.
Before its exit from the market at the end of last year VIM Airlines was developing actively on the Chinese market. The airline, therefore, left a void in the market that IrAero stepped in to fill.
The decision of IrAero to enter the long-haul market is not without controversy. The carrier does not seem to have a well-formed development strategy. Currently the airline is trying to get the most out of its Sukhoi Superjet 100s, but most of its revenue comes from its use of Antonov An-24/26 and Bombardier CRJ100/200 regional aircraft.
By Artyom Korenyako
Russian Aviation Insider
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