Paul Duffy/MOSCOW


Former Aeroflot carrier Sibir is showing signs of rebounding from the Russian economic collapse, with traffic and financial figures showing improvement during 1998.

The Novosibirsk-based airline carried 620,000 passengers last year, up 3% on 1997, while cargo volumes were up by 5%, to 5,800t. Sibir's success is all the more impressive when set against the 25% drop in traffic suffered by the airlines of West Siberia as a whole.

Sibir saw turnover grow by 10% last year, having posted sales of $102 million the previous year. The carrier did not reveal profit and loss figures, but claims to have broken even, according to Russian accounting procedures, based on a simple cashflow equation. Load factors rose to 76%.

By the end of 1998, Sibir had cleared outstanding debts for staff salaries and airport charges and had prepaid a one-month fuel bill. During the year, the airline bought two Tupolev Tu-154Ms and fitted new cabins to many of its 26 Tu-154s and Ilyushin Il-86s (above).

Sibir's turnaround owes much to new managing director Viacheslav Filyov, who took over in April 1998. During the first half of that year Sibir saw traffic fall by 10%, but, with Filyov on board, that climbed by 12% in the second half.

The airline has consolidated its position in western Siberia through mergers with local carriers in Tomsk, Barnaul and Kemerovo, and is negotiating with others. Sibir also plans international expansion, centred around increased flights to Germany.

Source: Flight International