RusLine to expand domestic operation

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Russian operator RusLine is broadening its geographic reach from several hubs across the country, buoyed by strong demand for its domestic inter-regional services.

The carrier is poised to open regular flights from Ulan Ude in East Siberia to Vladivostok, Yuzho-Sakhalinsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. This would follow the recent introduction of Ulan Ude-Khabarovsk rotations.

Over the past year, RusLine has almost doubled the number of its Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft to 17 from nine. It is expecting three more CRJ200 deliveries shortly.

Rapid fleet expansion has allowed RusLine to establish direct air links to provincial cities from Krasnodar, Volgograd and Krasnoyarsk. In 2011, its passenger traffic rose 63% on the back of a 74% increase in the number of flights.

Commercial director Vera Anpilogova said: "We now have capability to provide up to 150 frequencies a week during the high season and run five inter-regional flight programmes, each centred on a particular hub."

She also pointed to Ekaterinburg Koltsovo Airport, which had subleased four Embraer EMB-120 turboprops to the airline to serve nearby destinations and feed passenger traffic.

"We're aiming to restore provincial point-to-point air services that were commonplace 20 to 30 years ago but have been abandoned in favour of routes between more populated areas," said Anpilogova.

"Today there are 75 such points in our flight schedule. This gives us an ample scope for growth in line with this strategy."