"Our fleet includes 18 Tu-154Ms," a company spokesman said. "Their service life has not expired so far, therefore we will be replacing them gradually over the next three years."
He said the St. Petersburg-based company was considering replacing its Tu-154s with modern mid-range jets, including France's Airbuses, U.S. Boeings or Russian planes.
The Soviet-designed three-engine Tu-154M jets have been in service with Russian airlines since 1982. Pulkovo owned a Tu-154M liner that crashed August 22 near Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, en route from a Russian Black Sea resort to St. Petersburg, killing 170 passengers and crew on board.
In July 2001, another Tu-154 crashed near Irkutsk, claiming the lives of 145 people. A Tu-154 passenger airliner made an emergency landing in Krasnoyarsk in West Siberia earlier this week after an engine failure.
"The decision to replace the Tu-154 is not linked to the crash near Donetsk, as it was made before the incident," he said. "It is a scheduled replacement aimed at raising the company's competitiveness."
However, the company might soon find itself on a European Union "blacklist" of airlines forbidden to fly to Europe. The list will be updated October 4, and Pulkovo might face bankruptcy since about 70% of its revenues come from international flights.
The company operates short-range and medium-range airliners, which can only fly to Europe and the former Soviet republics, but not along Russian regional routes.
Experts say the motion is due to the EU's desire to pay Russia lower fees to operate Trans-Siberian routes.