Russian regional carrier Kuban Airlines is suspending all operations after running into insurmountable financial and regulatory difficulties.
Kuban says it had to return three Airbus A319s, out of its fleet of six foreign-built types, to lessors because of its inability to generate sufficient revenue during the low travel season and ensure timely lease payments.
It recently phased out its six Yakovlev Yak-42s. But at the end of November, Rosaviatsia introduced tighter minimum-fleet requirements for domestic carriers operating on mailine routes.
Under the new rule, a scheduled operator must have at least eight passenger aircraft with more than 55 seats to qualify for appropriate route designations.
"We've found impossible to meet this requirement and carry out our flight programme in the winter season," says Kuban general manager Sergei Mordvintsev. "In these circumstances, we decided to terminate our business and file for bankruptcy."
Kuban says that, as a result of the "severe financial situation" and inability to comply with the new regulation, it will close its operation from 11 December.
The carrier had been a tentative customer for the Sukhoi Superjet 100.
Kuban says it has declared bankruptcy to a court in the Krasnodar region, adding that it will work with the regional administration to "minimise the problems associated with the forced cancellation of flights".