Avianova collapse is 'tragedy' for Russian economy: chief

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Moscow Sheremetyevo airport's operator has set up an emergency office to handle the fallout from budget carrier Avianova's apparent collapse, after the airline failed to confirm that it would operate further services.

The airport operator said Avianova "did not respond" to an urgent message demanding an explanation for its terminating ticket sales, and seeking confirmation over its summer and winter flight schedules.

Shareholders of the carrier are placing the carrier in bankruptcy, according to the management team which has been caught up in a bitter power struggle between the airline's owners, investment firms A1 and Indigo Partners, since June.

Avianova had served a network of some 20 destinations from Sheremetyevo, as well as a handful of routes from St Petersburg, Krasnodar and Sochi, using a fleet of six Airbus A320s.

Sheremetyevo's operator said it is setting up an "operational headquarters" at the airport to "ensure uninterrupted service" as well as support to Avianova passengers.

Avianova's chief executive, Andrew Pyne, claimed the airline was in "great shape" before a bizarre turn of events on 24 June when the management team said it was locked out of the airline's offices in a coup by one of the shareholders.

Pyne, who was still laying claim to be the head of the airline even though the management could not exercise any control over its operations, said the closure of the carrier was "a tragedy" for those affected as well as the Russian economy.

"The airline's collapse was the most unnecessary and avoidable of outcomes," he added.

Pyne added the dispute had "turned a success story into a disaster" and that he would support and co-operate with a thorough investigation by the authorities.

He specifically points out that Russian federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia, which had been monitoring Avianova, opted in August to extend the airline's operating certificate for a year, having been convinced by documents showing the carrier could obtain loans "sufficient to carry out operations".

Pyne believes that the authority was not aware of the true state of the airline's financial position. Neither A1 nor Indigo Partners immediately responded to requests for comment.