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Planes for Russian top officials return passengers home stranded by failed airline

September 30, 13:24 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The president had ordered the grouping to participate in bringing back home the Russian citizens

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MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. Two Tupolev Tu-214 planes of the Rossiya special grouping, which serves Russia’s top officials, brought to Moscow from Turkey’s Antalya 320 passengers of the fraudulent VIM-Avia Company. Press secretary of the Presidential Staff, Elena Krylova, said the planes landed in Moscow at night to Saturday.

"The planes left Moscow on Friday, carrying only crews and having hot food due for a four-hour flight," she said. "They took passengers in Antalya and took off immediately."

The president had ordered the grouping to participate in bringing back home the Russian citizens, who could not return home as VIM-Avia’s flights were cancelled.

The Rossiya Special Flight Group is engaged in aviation services for Russian top officials, including the president and prime minister, as well as members of their delegations during official visits abroad or working trips across Russia.

Russia’s tenth largest carrier, announced on Monday that it was stopping all charter flight operations due to financial problems and shortage of the working capital. The announcement was preceded by a series of flight delays in Russian and foreign airports.

The air carrier obliged to transport more than 200,000 passengers before the end of this year.

The Federal Air Transport Agency has initiated an unscheduled inspection of VIM Airlines. According to the agency, substantial flight delays were linked to the company’s debts to fueling companies.

The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into a suspected large-scale embezzlement by some of the company’s officials.

On Friday, a Moscow court has placed director general of Russia’s debt-laden VIM Airlines, Alexander Kochnev, who is charged with embezzling the company’s funds, under home arrest till November 25. Earlier in the day, the company’s chief accountant Yekaterina Panteleyeva was also placed under home arrest, also till November 25.

According to investigators, the company’s top managers have been drawing funds from the company’s accounts with an aim of their further embezzlement. Apart from that, being unable to serve its passenger the company continued to sell tickets.

A source close to the investigation told TASS that Kochenev and Panteleyeva are accused of selling tickets while being aware that the company could not fulfil its liabilities. "Kochnev and other persons knew about the bad situation the company was it but took no steps to stop ticket sales and used the money at their own discretion," the source said.

This is a second wave of major delays the carrier is facing. In May 2017, VIM Airlines carrier started mass flight delays at various airports. The company explained it by late arrivals of the aircraft. In order to deal with the situation, the airline partially reduced its charter program for the summer period, cancelling 13 routes. Other carriers also helped to cope with the delays.

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