Russia Airlines round up: the last Tu-154, Superjets grounded and more...
Today the top slot goes to a classic of aviation...
I was quite amazed when I read the story on Ria Novosti's site, but, yes! while most airlines, including Russia's, were busy getting rid of the iconic Soviet-era airliner, deep inside Russia there was still a factory churning out Tu-154s. It was, because today has rolled out the last of them putting an end to 45 years of production!
(note: the aircraft in the picture is not the last of the line, but a Kirgyzstan Airways TU-154M that I spotted at Domodedovo airport a few years ago. But you can find a great Tu-154 infographic here!)
Although for many is already a vintage souvenir, if you waish to fly on a Tu-154, there are still plenty of options around, among them North Korea's flag carrier, that it recently launched an online booking service!
The Tu-154 might have its issues, but being around for 45 years is quiet an achievement for a piece of technology. It was expected that the type of shortcomings that led most of the airlines of the former Eastern block to ditch their old Soviet models as soon as they had a chance would be overcome by the new darling of the Russian civilian aerospace industry, the Sukhoi Superjet, however, as already commented in the previous round-up, the Superjet seems to be experimenting serious reliability issues, this time, the whole Aeroflot Superjet fleet has been grounded. But to be fair, this is not exclusive of Russian airliners, just ask Boeing about its 787s!
On a totally separate page, UTair is considering an IPO. The English story I linked to is to a premium source, but if you can read Russian, here is a longer article about the matter. While UTair might not be very well known to the non-Russian public, it has quite a large domestic operation, with a strong focus in oil producing areas of Siberia. It also operates a helicopter fleet, something quite unusual for major airlines in the West, but not that rare in Russia!
And European low cost airlines are finally coming to Russia!...or maybe not (yet)...as there seem to be some problems with Easyjet's documentation, that has not been able to confirm the start of flights despite having (apparently) sorted out operational and administrative issues and started selling tickets on its new cherished Moscow routes...In any case, Easyjet is expected to be followed soon by another European LCC, Wizzair. Are we going to see Ryanair in Russia soon?