Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot has unveiled plans to launch a new airline serving the country’s Far East.
The new Aurora Airlines was unveiled this week, following the merger of two existing regional airlines operated by Aeroflot – SAT Airlines and Vladivostok Avia. The move is said to have been ordered by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as a means of contributing to the “social and economic development” of the remote region.
According to Aeroflot, the creation of Aurora will boost its operational activities in the Far East from a network of 30 destinations in 2013 to 128 in 2018, by which time the carrier’s annual passenger traffic is forecast to reach 2.4 million.
As well as connecting Russia’s Far East, Aurora is likely to boost links with neighbouring Asian countries. The existing Vladivostok Avia and SAT Airlines both currently operate flights to key cities in China, Japan and South Korea, while Vladivostok also flies to Uzbekistan and operates charter flights to Southeast Asia.
“The consolidated Far Eastern airline was a strategic idea for a long time, from now on it is a reality,” said Vitaly Saveliev, Aeroflot’s director general. “Aurora airline will help to enhance the economic potential of the Far East, increase the mobility of its population and contribute to the growth and reinforcement of local aviation personnel.
“The new air carrier will be an important part of Aeroflot Group and will strengthen its synergy. We expect an effective cooperation with the federal and regional authorities in the further development of this project, essential both for the Far East and Russia,” he added.
Aurora’s initial fleet of Boeing 737s will be supplemented by the arrival of three Airbus A319s by the end of this year. Then in 2014, the carrier is expected to add a further six more A319s. By 2018, Aurora’s fleet is expected to reach 40 aircraft, comprising a mix of regional, short- and medium-haul jets.