Readovka expert Vitaly Palkin. His conclusions, let's say right away, are sad – in his opinion, all Russian airlines will face inevitable bankruptcy.
First of all, the expert, of course, poses typically Russian questions: “Who is to blame?” in the air travel crisis and “What to do?” to overcome it. “As a result of the imposed Western sanctions, domestic passenger airlines are in a critical situation. The reason for this deplorable situation was the long-term incorrect strategy of Russian companies, primarily Aeroflot, which led to the fact that this sector was not just integrated, but “reintegrated” into the international division of labor and is almost 99% dependent on the world market ”, he declares.
In addition to the closure of the sky, the aviation market suffered three blows, “which almost paralyzed its work,” the expert says. This is a requirement to return all leased aircraft to their owners – he recalls that, according to the estimates of the analytical company Cirium, out of 980 aircraft, 777 are leased, 515 of them are from foreign companies. The second problem is the suspension of airworthiness certificates by Bermuda, where most Russian airlines registered aircraft for tax evasion. The expert again recalls that according to Russian Aviation Insider in 2017, out of 743 foreign-made aircraft in operation, only 133 were registered in the Russian Federation. And, finally, the third blow is a moratorium on the supply of components and maintenance of Russian aircraft by foreign companies. “Approximately 300 aircraft, out of almost 1,000 in stock, are manufactured in Russia, and all other aircraft, with rare exceptions, come from suppliers who have joined this measure: the “lion’s share” is Boeing and Airbus aircraft. At the first malfunction of the aircraft, which may occur in a year, or maybe in a month, it will be impossible to operate it for objective reasons,” the expert assures. However, the Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 is different in that 68% of the components are foreign.
The expert criticizes the maneuvers adopted so far – “aircraft will not be allowed into the “danger zone”, where they can be arrested, and no one is going to return or reimburse lessors, but this, alas, does not solve the problem with the impossibility of their flights to other countries. The Federal Air Transport Agency has also already announced its readiness to re-register all “offshore” aircraft in Russia. The re-registration of our aircraft in Russia is simply necessary in itself, but “does not solve the problem of their free flights to foreign countries.” On the third point, according to the expert, only China is considered as a supplier, which is not very reliable.
“But it is important to understand the main thing – this measure should maximize the life of foreign aircraft and make the transition to the use of an air fleet of our own production as smooth as possible both financially and technically. This transition is a strategic decision, which comes down to the “magic” word import substitution,” the expert says.
Further, he recalls that such a situation has developed because “dealers and grabbers from the leadership of airlines, in the midst of greed and a desire to evade taxes, in fact, transferred part of the rights to their planes to“ someone else's uncle. In addition, according to him, not only “in the chaos of the 90s, our advanced aircraft, the Il-96 and Tu-204, had no chance to gain attractiveness in the eyes of Aeroflot and other companies,” but also in the early 2000s, the revival domestic aircraft industry is faced with insurmountable obstacles. “Airlines were already operating under an understandable financial scheme, where they leased used Boeing and Airbus aircraft. In the 90s, they gradually replaced the old Tu-154, Il-62 and Il-86. Our aircraft factories at the dawn of Russian capitalism, when they were fighting for survival, could not, producing 1-2 aircraft per month, even closely compete in price with EU and US aircraft, which were produced per month by several hundred – the “scale effect” is a great thing ” . As a result, “the fight for the market was lost.”
But even when the situation with state support changed dramatically, the expert assures, Aeroflot tried to work according to the old schemes for leasing foreign aircraft. “Moreover, the remaining Tu-204s and Il-96s were actively written off and sold off – an excessive range of aircraft types increased the operating costs of companies, and even the purchase of new models of domestic air transport did not look financially justified for aircraft operators.” In turn, the leadership of aircraft manufacturing enterprises in the development and sale, in particular, of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft, “did not take the path of reducing the cost of the aircraft and reciprocal compromises with Russian buyers,” but “saddle administrative capabilities and push through in a forceful style. “Aeroflot managers, already not particularly motivated to fulfill their part of the “import substitution deal”, resisted even more, but in the end they “broke down” and agreed to purchases. During this time, “Dry” in the amount of more than 250 units flooded the key companies of the country, and in the conditions of the crisis, de facto, they turned out to be rather foreign aircraft, ”the expert assures, further coming to the main thesis.
And he is. “The bankruptcy of all airlines in the country is inevitable. Even Aeroflot itself will not be saved, not to mention other leaders of air transportation during the period of stability. Only small regional airlines that use the fleet of An-24 aircraft or something like that will be able to survive. At the same time, the number of even domestic flights will decrease by several orders of magnitude, and ticket prices will seriously increase,” the expert scared.
The Aeroflot 2.0 planned by him will have to be created from scratch with the following steps:
- It is necessary to put an end to the fleet of Boeing and Airbus. “If these aircraft are owned, they must be sold or exchanged for Russian-made aircraft owned by foreign countries (there are not many of them, but they exist)”
- After the exhaustion of such resources leased aircraft should be cannibalized. The word is terrible, but in reality it means that out of three defective Boeing aircraft, one worker can be assembled, which will last for several more years. Accumulate around Aeroflot 2.0 all domestically produced aircraft in the country, even if they are “oldies” like Tu-154M or Il-62 (of course, in decent technical condition).
- “Alas, it must be clearly understood that the fleet of the Sukhoi Superjet 100, as well as the medium-haul MS-21 being developed, will hang for 3-4 years. We wrote about the share of foreign components of Sukhoi above. Regarding the MS-21, the government demanded that the Minister of Industry Denis Manturov provide 95% of Russian components, but he modestly promised that he would be able to bring their share to 80%, and, probably, in fact, this figure is still lower, ”the expert is discouraged. However, he notes that this does not negate the importance of solving this problem.
- “In the context of the fact that our “new developments”, which have fallen into the trap of foreign components, cannot yet enter mass production, we need to pay attention to our aircraft of past generations: Tu-204/214 and Il-96. These aircraft, which began to be developed in the late USSR, either consist entirely of domestic components, or their foreign components are easily replaceable. Il-96 is produced in small batches at a plant in Voronezh, and Tu-204/214 in Ulyanovsk and Kazan. Quite quickly, it is possible to expand their production, which will easily ensure the phased replacement of the fleet of foreign aircraft, especially in the face of a decline in the intensity of civilian traffic at the first stage. If now the factories produce 1-2 aircraft per year, then the production level of 10-15 aircraft of the enterprise will be reached in 1-2 years,” the expert further declares. As an option, he suggests creating “Chinese copies” of imported aircraft.
- It is impossible to allow between the seller of aircraft, which will be UAC (United Aircraft Manufacturing Company) and Aeroflot 2.0. relationships similar to the 2000s and 2010s. UAC in this case will produce excessively expensive and low-quality equipment, and Aeroflot 2.0 will try to avoid buying it, agreeing to do so only for large state subsidies. The variant of direct state management of both companies as participants in a bilateral monopoly is also impossible. In this case, there is no cure for corruption that would not allow the leaders of these state-owned companies to enter into a cartel with the same expected state loss in the end and a terrible drop in the quality of transportation. Both aircraft manufacturers and Aeroflot 2.0 should remain commercial companies that are “competitors” in the field of aircraft pricing, and not rivals in the question “who has the administrative club more?” – also says the expert.
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