The Kremlin is providing Russian airline alliance AirUnion with 24,000t of fuel from state reserves, enough to support its operations for a further 18 days. The move forms part of a plan aimed at enabling the creation of a new, economically viable carrier that would incorporate the assets of AirUnion, GTK Rossiya, KMV and Orenburg Airlines and be capable of competing with dominant flag carrier Aeroflot.

AirUnion, whose members include Domodedovo Airlines, KrasAir, OmskAvia, Samara and SiAT, was forced to suspend most of its operations from Moscow Domodedovo and Krasnoyarsk Emelyanovo airports on 20 August after running up huge debts for airport services and fuel. However, with the support of the Russian aviation authorities, shareholders and partner airlines it managed to resume flights from 22 August.

The airline sank back into crisis on 26 August, when 30 flights were not operated, affecting 4,000 passengers. Services were resumed the following day.

On 27 August, the deputy head of the Russian government Sergei Ivanov said Moscow would "do everything to save AirUnion from bankruptcy". The Kremlin asked the Ilyushin Finance leasing company not to take back two Ilyushin Il-96-300 long-haul airliners from AirUnion's largest airline member KrasAir.

Ivanov added that the 24,000t of fuel will be provided under the guarantee of AirUnion's main shareholder, state-run Rostechnologii, which has a 50% stake. The AirUnion carriers' debts are estimated to be Rb27 billion ($1.1 billion).

Source: Flight International