KRASNODAR, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russian budget airline Red Wings is planning to more than double its aircraft fleet by 2017, from eight planes to 18, a company executive said Monday.
In mid-June, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) gave Red Wings permission to resume operations that were suspended soon after a fatal incident at a Moscow airport in December.
Red Wings, which currently operates eight Tupolev Tu-204 airliners, is planning to sign a memorandum with the Tupolev Design Bureau on the delivery of another 10 aircraft over a period of three years, starting in 2014, said Yevgeny Klyucharev, company deputy general director for strategic development.
He offered no indication of the contract’s value. The airline is planning to carry about 500,000 passengers this year and 1.5 million next year, he said.
Red Wings, formerly owned by billionaire former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev, suffered a fatal accident December 29 when one of its Tu-204s skidded off the runway at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport, killing five of the eight crew members aboard.
Red Wings flights were suspended in February after the aviation watchdog uncovered safety violations by the airline. After it was suspended, Lebedev sold the troubled airline for a symbolic 1 ruble (3 US cents).