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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Intourist Seeking to Create Boutique Airline Company

Intourist is looking at the possibility of launching its own airline, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

Alexei Shalov said the company was considering a number of possible options, including sealing an agreement with a pre-existing airline to adopt the Intourist name; buying a small airline company and expanding its fleet by leasing Boeing aircraft; and buying an airline specializing in charter flights.

"If someone else can come up with a fourth option, then we would be happy to hear it," Shalov said. "Our main priority is not to create an airline, but to solve our transport issues with the least possible expenditure."

Intourist vice president Oleg Dyachenko said the working groups set up to consider the economic viability of the various options would report their findings by May, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

"As it is a pretty major deal, we'll be looking to complete it by the end of the year," Shalov added.

Airlines Vim-Avia and Atlant-Soyuz are being considered as possible partners in the initiative, Shalov said. He added that no other airlines are being looked at as yet.

The Vim-Avia press secretary refused to comment on the subject, adding that the company was not clear on what stage the talks have reached.

Atlant Soyuz could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Shalov insisted that talk of figures was still purely speculative and that a small airline could be acquired from as little as $1.5 million.

Intourist flew nearly 900 charter flights last year, Shalov said.

Experts said the operation could cost Intourist between $20 million and $100 million and that the airline would need to reach an annual turnover of 300,000 passengers to become profitable, Kommersant reported.