Russia looks to domestic aircraft to counter sanctions

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Russia’s government is looking into forming an airline using domestically-built aircraft to circumvent the sanctions which grounded low-cost operator Dobrolet.

Trade and industry minister Yuri Slusar told an air transport forum in Ulyanovsk that the situation with Dobrolet has “forced [the government] to think seriously” about transportation capability “in the event of a zero-hour”.

“We have proposed establishing a Russian airline which uses domestic aircraft,” he says.

Slusar says the fleet could be drawn from 11 Tupolev Tu-204s available from the Aviastar plant at Ulyanovsk, with a view to incorporating the Irkut MC-21 once serial production begins.

Dobrolet had been operating services to Crimean territory, the Russian annexation of which spurred European Union sanctions on the airline.

Slusar says the trade ministry has been looking to the domestic industry, including Tu-204 operator Red Wings, to provide regular services to Crimea. A governmental military-industrial commission has also considered the possibility of increasing production of the Ilyushin Il-114 which could be used for Crimean operations.