Airline companies merge in Arctic Russia

Red Wings flies with its fleet of Tu-204-100 to Murmansk. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)
The two leading airliners in Northwest Russia, the Nordavia and Red Wings, are becoming one company.

«The goal of the merger is to expand out business, which will give us possibilities to enhance the financial stability of the companies, conduct a fully-fledged renewal of the aircraft fleet, create a joint route network and improve efficiency», a statement from the companies posted by Interfax reads.

The merger has been in the process for more than a year. In early 2016, Sergey Kuznetsov, owner of Red Wings, bought Nordavia from Norilsk Nickel, the mining and metallurgy company.

Both airliners have over the last years experienced serious economic hardship. Nordavia, the company which is based in Arkhangelsk and primarily serves north Russian passengers, have over the years accumulated a debt of more than €150 million.

Murmansk has the second biggest airport in northern Russia. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The merged company become Russia’s 10th biggest airliner. And ambitions are high. Already in 2018, the company plans to fly more than 3,5 million passengers.

The company will have a combined fleet of 19 aircrafts, among them Airbus A320 and 321, Boeing 737-500 and Russian-made Tu-204-100. Several more planes are in the pipeline. Red Wings has ordered ten aircrafts type Tu-2014SM and 16 MS-21-300 (Yak-242), the new mid-distance Russian plane.

Passenger numbers on the rise in the North

The merger of the companies comes as the growth in passenger numbers in north Russian airports is significant.

Arkhangelsk, the biggest airport in the Russian north, in the first half of 2017 served 386,271 passengers, an increase of 20 percent compared with the same period in 2016. Narrowly behind is Murmansk, which in the same period served 377,880 passengers, an year-on-year increase of more than eight percent.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Surveillance and search and rescue top Canada’s Arctic defence priorities, Radio Canada International

Finland: Bird strike grounds Norwegian flight in Arctic Finland, Yle News

Norway: Longer runway for bigger planes in Kirkenes, northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Passenger numbers skyrocket at remote airport in Russian Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish city of Umeå paves the way for green electric bus revolution, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Federal agency to investigate ‘avoidable’ plane crashes in Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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