Russian regional operator RusLine has entered into a codeshare agreement with Ural Airlines to secure a foothold in Ekaterinburg.
Under the deal, which took effect on 10 February, the carrier has placed its code on Ural's medium- and long-haul flights to 10 major domestic cities served from Ekaterinburg, Moscow and Novosibirsk.
RusLine commercial director Vera Ampilogova says the agreement is part of the carrier's strategy to expand in the Ural region with Ekaterinburg Koltsovo airport as its local hub.
"It should help us slash air fares for passengers and increase traffic. Population density here is almost as high as in central Russia while air transport accessibility is lower. Hence, a substantial demand for intra-regional and feeder services," says Ampilogova.
"Further to the east, some regions have less access to aviation but are not populated densely enough to make scheduled services viable."
Under a special programme, Koltsovo airport authority offers incentives to tenants introducing flights to new destinations except Moscow.
RusLine currently serves eight provincial cities within a radius of 2,000km (1,243mi) from Ekaterinburg, using Bombardier CRJ200s.
Airport deputy director Sergei Dotsenko expects the carrier to deploy four Embraer EMB-120 turboprops, sub-leased from Region-Avia, on short-haul routes of up to 1,000km.