Siberian airline opts for fleet upgrade with Tu-204s to develop its niche markets

KrasAir is moving ahead with replacing its fleet of ageing Tupolev Tu-154 trijets by 2005 with new generation Tu-204s. The Siberian airline has been operating two Aviadvigatel PS-90A-powered Tu-204-100s acquired last year from the Ulyanovsk production plant Aviastar. At the recent annual meeting of KrasAir's shareholders, approval was granted to replace all of KrasAir's 17 Tu-154s over the next four years.

Last year, KrasAir agreed a pact with Transaero to jointly purchase Tu-204/214s from the two plants where they are produced. KrasAir plans to acquire 10 Tu-204s from Aviastar with the third aircraft arriving this year, and up to 10 high gross weight Tu-214s from the KAPO factory in Kazan.

The airline says that its new Tu-204 fleet will enable it to move into "niche markets", such as flying tourists from Moscow to Egypt, as other carriers operating older inefficient types will be unable to compete economically.

The fleet upgrade comes as the airline reports an operating profit of 161.5 million roubles ($5.6 million) and net profit of 10.6 million roubles for 2000. KrasAir experienced a 9% rise in load factors, and its share of Russian passenger traffic was 5%, surpassing that of prominent Siberian airline Sibir by 0.2%.

KrasAir is now the country's third largest airline in traffic terms, behind Aeroflot and Pulkovo.

Airline general director Boris Abramovich attributes its success to KrasAir-owned Krasnoyarsk airport becoming a large transit hub between east and west Russia, and the airline and its partners creating a network between Krasnoyarsk, other Siberian hubs and the European part of the country.

Source: Flight International