French business aircraft and helicopter charter company Aviaxess has secured a foothold in the Russian market following the signing of a co-operation agreement with Moscow-based consultancy Allied Aviation.

The firm will help Aviaxess develop its executive transport business within the burgeoning region.

"We have established sales offices in Moscow and at Domedodovo airport, which places us close to our existing Russian customers," he says, adding that many of them use Aviaxess helicopters to fly for leisure in and around France's tourist hotspots,.

Aguettant says helicopters within Russia have historically been used for aerial work and their use for corporate and VIP transport is in its infancy. However, Russia is emerging from the economic crisis and the wealthy classes are expanding once again.

"It is important that we are at the forefront of this helicopter sector in Russia and that we are one of the first companies to make an impact here. This market is going to grow, unlike in other parts of Europe where this sector is mature," Aguettant says.

"There are so many more opportunities to expand the VIP leisure and corporate business in Russia. Unlike in other parts of Europe, Russians don't feel they have to explain or justify why they are using private aircraft for leisure. It is their choice, no questions asked," he says.

Aguettant will study the market initially with a view to basing at least two helicopters in Moscow within a year. Aviaxess is planning to grow the Russian-based fleet through aircraft management - a less capital intensive business model, he says. The company already operates a growing fleet of around 35 aircraft in Europe.

To raise its profile and expose its branding within the Russian market Aguettant says Aviaxess will seek commercial opportunities and joint ventures with local operators such as UTair, which operates a helicopter shuttle service from Domedodovo to Moscow.

Source: Flight International