Metrojet suspends operations
Russian charter carrier Kogalymavia, which operates under the Metrojet brand name, has suspended operations following the Russian authorites’ bans on air services to Egypt and charter flights to Turkey, the two destinations that generated the bulk of the airline’s business, the Vedomosti daily reports. The airline performed its last flight on November 20.
The carrier hopes to resume operations in January 2016, says Metrojet’s associate business Tourism Holding & Consulting (TH&C). By that time the airline management is expected to have restructured its route network to exclude Turkey and Egypt.
The ban on commercial air services to Egypt was imposed by President Vladimir Putin on November 6, in the aftermath of the alleged terrorist attack on Metrojet’s Airbus A321 en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. The ban on charter flights to Turkey, imposed on November 28, was the Russian president’s reaction to the Turkish Air Force shooting down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber on a combat sortie in Syria.
TH&C has close ties with Turkey; its key partner is Antalya-headquartered Prince Group. The latter lists both TH&C and Metrojet as assets on its official website. According to Vedomosti, 100% of Kogalymavia belongs to Western Aviation Investment Company which, in turn, is controlled by Turkish entrepreneur Hamit Cankut Bagana, the owner of Onur Air.
Metrojet carried 873,000 passenters in the first 10 months of 2015, down 28.9% year-on-year; this decline might have been caused by the split-up with the carrier’s former partner TUI Russia in August 2014.
According to the Russian Aviation Insider database, Turkey and Egypt used to occupy the first and second positions on the list of Russian tourists’ most popular charter destinations. In 2014, 6.6 million Russians used charter flights to travel to Turkey, and 4.9 million flew with charters to Egypt.
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