New York-based start-up Baltia Air Lines has set up an operations centre at Willow Run airport near Ypsilanti, Michigan as it awaits word on a pending air carrier certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) East Michigan Flight Standards District Office.
Baltia plans to perform its crewmember training at Kalitta Air's facilities at Willow Run, but first, the airline must reach the necessary phase in the FAA certification process.
Baltia's founders started the process to become a Part 121 carrier in 2009, with intentions of providing flights between the USA and former Soviet republics. The company keeps its corporate headquarters at New York John F. Kennedy airport.
The FAA is now undergoing review of Baltia's air carrier application, says VP marketing Anthony Koulouris.
Kalitta Air's maintenance arm in Oscoda, Michigan has performed heavy and line maintenance for Baltia and intends to continue this work if the carrier is cleared to start scheduled service. The cargo airline's relationship with Baltia started when it sold an ex-Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-200B aircraft to the airline in 2010. The maintenance company says the aircraft is now in its hangar undergoing a few final C-check maintenance tasks. The aircraft's Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines are under power-by-the-hour lease agreements.
Baltia is eyeing New York-Saint Petersburg for its inaugural route. No airline flies that route today, Innovata schedules show. The US Department of Transportation approved Baltia's launch of the route in March 2009, and the airline had targeted starting service between the cities in the third quarter of 2009. But when Baltia needed more time to prepare manuals for the FAA to submit its operating permit, that plan was delayed.
Moscow is the second destination on Baltia's route list. According to Innovata schedules, Delta Air Lines is the only US airline to fly between Russian and the USA, operating a nonstop route between New York JFK and Moscow Sheremetyevo. A bilateral aviation agreement allows for up to three US combination passenger and cargo airlines to fly on any given routes between the two countries.
Russian carriers have a more extensive network within the US. Aeroflot flies nonstop to Moscow Sheremetyevo from Washington Dulles, New York's JFK airport and Miami. Transaero offers nonstop flights from New York JFK, Los Angeles, Miami and Toronto to Moscow Domodedovo. Singapore Airlines also flies nonstop from Houston to Domodedovo.