Which Aircraft Could Putin’s New Far East Airline Utilise?

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has said he wants a new far east Russian airline to help develop the nation’s Pacific territories. But what would this airline actually look like? And what aircraft would it use?

The MC-21 could be a solid contender for the new airline. Photo: Getty Images

What type of aircraft does it need?

The Russian government is looking at starting up a new airline in Russia’s far east. Likely this airline will be based out of the airport of Vladivostok, the biggest city in the region and the busiest airport.

The aircraft for this new airline will need to handle the following criteria:

  • Vast distances. Russia is a big country and this region is sparsely populated. The airline will need an aircraft that can perform the distance of Spain to Greece every day. More so if the airline will operate routes between Vladivostok and Moscow.
  • Flexibility. The aircraft needs to be able to land at airports that have short runways, covered in snow and ice and in remote locations.
  • Cheap to operate. The aircraft in question need to be cheap to operate, profitable and not burn too much fuel.
Russia’s far east region stretches from Lake Baikal in the west to the Bering Strait in the east. Source: Google Maps.

Which aircraft fit the bill?

If we were to hazard a guess and select a few aircraft from a list for this new venture, we would recommend the following:

  • The Airbus A330-800neo – Massive range, great capacity, reliable (if anything like the A330-200), can operate in hot/cold conditions and can land on short runways. In fact, it is for the latter reasons that Air Greenland ordered the aircraft for their service over the Boeing 787. And if it is good enough for Greenland, its good enough for the Far East.
  • The Airbus A321XLR – Excellent range, easy to fill up. This aircraft will make route planning a breeze with the ability to fly long-range throughout the region and be profitable without many passengers on board.

Why no Boeing? Boeing has no luck with short-haul aircraft recently (until the 737 MAX is flying again) and their Boeing 787 might not be suited for the harsh conditions in this region. Although several local airlines do operate Boeing 777s and earlier Boeing 737s variants.

Air Greenland
Air Greenland has bought the A330-800neo for their A330-200 replacement. Photo: Rene Schwietzke via Flickr

What aircraft will likely be used?

However, we have to remember that we live in the real world and there are two scenarios that are more likely than the above.

The first is that Aeroflot will likely use some of its own aircraft for the new venture. It will send over a bunch of A320s and perhaps a widebody or two to jump-start the new airline. This way they can begin almost right away and guarantee a good quality product.

The other situation is that the Government might insist on Russian aircraft being used for this venture. This would likely mean a big order for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (a great aircraft with not so great pilots) and perhaps an order for the new in-development Russian Irkut MC-21.

What do you think this new airline should use? Let us know in the comments.