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Russian airline Ak Bars halts flights over ruble slump, lower passenger traffic

“The suspension will approximately last until late March,” Ak Bars airline spokeswoman Ilgiza Nasibullina said

KAZAN, January 12. /TASS/. The airline Ak Bars Aero, the sole air carrier in the Volga Republic of Tatarstan, has joined the group of domestic air companies experiencing financial problems amid the ruble’s rapid devaluation and declining passenger traffic.

The Ak Bars airline has announced it is suspending its operations from Monday. “The suspension will approximately last until late March,” Ak Bars airline spokeswoman Ilgiza Nasibullina said, adding that “the republic was interested in keeping the airline and therefore there can be no talk about the bankruptcy of Ak Bars Aero.”

Established in 2010, Ak Bars Aero performed about 40 regular internal flights. Its aircraft pool includes over 40 airliners, a part of which the airline intends to transfer to other air companies for lease to optimize its expenses.

The Russian aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia revoked operating certificates in early December 2014 from the airlines Moskoviya and Bylina, which had actually halted flights over financial woes at the end of summer.

Transaero and Utair, Russia’s second and third largest airlines by air carriage in the country, are also experiencing financial problems. In late December, Transaero was given state guarantees of up to 9 billion rubles ($160 million) for a loan from VTB Bank while Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich promised that domestic airlines could also count on this aid in 2015.

Russian airlines are sustaining losses over the ruble devaluation as foreign airliners account for 95% of the volume of their air carriages.

Russian Air Transport Operator Association President Vladimir Tasun has said that airlines’ expenses may rise by at least 15% in 2015.

Lower passenger traffic has also created problems for domestic airlines. Rosaviatsia registered a fall by more than 5% in passenger transportation from Russia. Meanwhile, a slowdown in passenger traffic growth was registered on internal flights.