Russia's Polet to assist with Samara start-up carrier

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Russian regional carrier Polet appears to have reached an agreement with authorities in Samara over co-founding a locally-based air enterprise.

Commercial director Nikolai Yakubenko says Polet is to have 30% of shares in the planned operator, tentatively dubbed Air Samara. The regional government has secured a 51% stake with the rest of the equity to be held by Samara Kurumoch Airport.

"Local authorities have expressed willingness to invest in acquisition of aircraft and are keen to exploit our passenger fleet capabilities," says Polet general manager Anatoly Karpov.

Polet has six leased Saab 2000 turboprops and expects to take delivery of five Saab 340s shortly. The carrier also has 10 Antonov An-148 regional jets on order.

Karpov believes Air Samara will initially need five or six aircraft. Samara airport director Leonid Schwarz, who has been tapped as the carrier's probable chief, says it could start services this year.

Based on a feasibility study carried out by Lufthansa Consulting, the regional transport ministry has suggested investing at least Rb650 million ($22 million) in the project and expects it to break even in about four years.