Sibir targets second spot

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Sibir Airlines plans to establish a hub at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport while expanding its network of subsidiaries in Siberia and Russia's Far East. The proposals could make it the country's number two carrier. The airline expects to carry up to 1.5 million people this year, doubling its 1999 load of 744,000 passengers - which itself is a 20% increase on the previous year.

Aeroflot Russian International Airlines was easily Russia's largest carrier in 1999, with over 4 million passengers, but Sibir could leapfrog struggling number two, Vnukovo Airlines, with which it once planned to merge. Sibir posted a load factor of 70.1% last year.

While consolidating operations at its Novosibirsk Tolmachevo base, Sibir aims to build its presence at Vnukovo. It also plans to expand operations from Perm in the Urals and to expand its eastern offshoots. Subsidiaries in Barnaul, Kemerovo and Tomsk create 30% of turnover.

Sibir's fleet is based around Tupolev Tu-154s and IlyushinIl-86s. It has taken delivery of aTu-204 and is to lease three increased gross weight Tu-214s.

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