An apparent shareholder dispute at Russian low-cost carrier Avianova has resulted in members of the airline's senior management team being physically removed and prevented from re-entering its Moscow offices.
A source close to the airline said that "elements loyal to shareholders" had removed chief executive Andrew Pyne, chief commercial officer Michael Hayden and a number of Russian executives from Avianova's offices on 24 June.
They have been denied access to the building ever since in what the source described as "an issue of shareholders flexing their muscles".
Speaking exclusively to ATI and Flightglobal, Pyne insisted that he was "still the legally-appointed CEO and still in Moscow, despite the rumours".
He added that he and his management team have "no intention to give up on the project", and described issues over the last few days as "attempts to subvert the normal management of the company".
"The shareholders have worked successfully to get this airline in the air and make it the first successful low-cost carrier in Russia," said Pyne. "The critical thing is to ensure that the airline continues on its upward trajectory. It would be a tragedy if it lost its momentum."
Avianova is a joint venture between Russian investment firm Alfa-1, which owns 51% of the carrier, and US investment fund Indigo Partners.
The airline recently said it had appointed Red Wings general manager Konstantin Teterin as deputy director general. However, a source familiar with the situation said the appointment was made without Indigo's approval and, therefore, has "no legal basis".