Viktor Olersky
© RIA Novosti. Ilya Timin

Ministry urges more Arctic passenger airplanes

The Russian segment of the Arctic is insufficiently supplied with passenger airplanes, Deputy Transport Minister Viktor Olersky said at a meeting of the State Commission on Arctic Development in Murmansk, adding that it is necessary to upgrade the regional air fleet and design and manufacture airplanes for northern territories, RIA Novosti reported.

Developing local airlines is key to the Arctic's successful development. Work is underway to develop an air service system for the country's northern regions.

"Seven federal budget-subsidized companies have been created in hard-to-access areas, including northern areas, based on the resources of 56 money-losing regional and local airports," he said, adding that there are presently 73 airfields in the Russian Arctic zone.

However, there are not enough regional passenger airplanes in the Arctic zone.

"The average age of the regional air fleet is about 30 years. The An-2 is still the mainstay of the regional air fleet," the official said.

In 2015, the Transport Ministry studied the operation of 41 airlines; 24 are working in the Arctic zone. Thirteen companies said they need 152 new airplanes by 2025, including 99 by 2020. Olersky said a state program to upgrade the air fleet through subsidies to regional and local carriers launched in 2012. So far, 73 aircraft have been provided under the program. Nevertheless, this mechanism is insufficient given the economic difficulties and there is a need to improve state support mechanisms in this sphere.

"To upgrade the air fleet, measures to design and manufacture passenger airplanes for the Arctic zone should be included in the state program to develop the aviation industry for 2013-2020. A project has been submitted to the Transport Ministry," he said.