Sky Express 737. Courtesy, Sky Express

Sky Express, Russia’s first low-cost carrier (LCC), will lose its air operator’s certificate (AOC) and operate under a new single AOC with Russian regional carrier Kuban Airlines.  

Alexander Neradko, the head of Rosaviatsia—Russia’s Dept. of Aviation/Ministry of Transport—announced the AOC changes as part of the consolidation process between Sky Express and Kuban, which is based at Krasnodar International in Southern Russia.

The owner of Kuban, Russian investment company Basic Element, announced its intent to buy Sky Express in 2010.

ATW understands the new combined airline will operate under the better-known Sky Express brand, but it is not clear if it will remain an LCC.

Sky Express was launched in 2007 by a group of foreign investors, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Altima Capital (ATW Daily News, Jan. 30 2007).  It started operations with two Boeing 737-300s operating several domestic routes and offered a promotional fare of 500 rubles ($18). Later, however, the airline was forced to enter the charter market because it could not sustain the LCC business model in Russia. In 2010 it carried 1.66 million passengers.

On Oct. 11, the Dept. of Aviation suspended the AOC of a second Russian LCC—Avianova (ATW Daily News, Oct. 4). Avianova started flights in August 2009, but investors American Indigo partners and Russian A1 stopped funding. The carrier ceased selling tickets Oct. 3 and made its last flight Oct. 9. Avianova carried 1.54 million passengers in 2010.