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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vnukovo Emerges Out of Crisis

Russia's biggest domestic air carrier, Vnukovo Airlines, is trying to emerge from a financial crisis that has forced out the company head and disrupted operations, a senior company official said Wednesday.

Alexander Klimov, Vnukovo's deputy general director, said the airline was managing to operate 90 percent of its scheduled regular flights, and that the worst was over. "The crisis is behind us," he said.

But he said the airline made a loss in June, as many passengers returned tickets because of flight cancellations. Also, staff faced wage delays, and there were problems maintaining the fleet because aircraft makers were unable to supply spare parts.

Vnukovo owns 53 passenger aircraft and cargo aircraft, but 34 of them are outdated and grounded because they need urgent repair.

Klimov said Vnukovo's board of directors had dismissed the company's general director, Alexander Romanov, several days ago.

"Tatevos Surinov is the new head of the company now, but the board is yet to confirm him in this top position," he said. Surinov is the head of Rosaviakonsortium, which owns 76 percent of Vnukovo's shares.

The crisis began at the end of May, when several Russian airports, fuel suppliers and air-traffic control centers demanded that Vnukovo immediately pay debts amounting to 80 million rubles ($13 million).

The airline said it did not have the money because the Finance Ministry and others state organizations owed it millions of rubles in discounted tickets for bureaucrats' flights.

"The ministry's debt [to Vnukovo] is about 217 million rubles. If we get this money, the carrier would overcome the crisis," Vnukovo spokeswoman Olga Sergiyeva said. Klimov said Vnukovo lost about 40 million rubles in June.