MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. Russia’s second largest airline, Transaero has turned to the government and to creditors for aid. It says debts may compel it to ground all of its jets already before the New Year holidays, two separate sources familiar with the situation told TASS.
A federal official close to the Transport Ministry assured the reporter the authorities were doing everything in their power to prevent the cancelation of flights. He said Transaero was a backbone company in the Russian civil aviation industry and aid to it would be given by all means.
The official did not specify the type of aid, however.
“Olga Pleshakova, the Director General of the airline informed state agencies in the first half of December Transaero was running the risk of a suspension of flights as early as prior to the New Year,” a source familiar with Pleshakova’s letter to the government said. “She said the airline didn’t have the money to pay to its agents.”
The letter said among other things that airline had accumulated an overdue debt to suppliers of jet fuel by the end of November. Specifically, it owed 2.5 billion rubles (around $ 60.7 million by the then exchange rate) to the oil corporation Rosneft and almost 2.0 billion rubles ($ 48.5 million) to Gazprom Aero company.
Also, Transaero had an outstanding debt to Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
The source said Pleshakova told the government a suspension of the airline’s operations was possible unless a moratorium on kerosene prices was introduced and the banks opened new sufficient loan facilities for it.
Another source told TASS Transaero was hoping to get a loan of over 8 billion rubles /$ 194.2 million/ but the bank managed to endorse only a far smaller loan.
“An urgent search for other options of how to cover the cash shortage is underway at present and Gazprombank or VTB bank may be invited to take part,” he said.