Russia’s second-largest airline, Transaero, struggling with bankruptcy

MOSCOW —  Russia’s second-largest airline, Transaero, in crisis after two creditors on Friday said they will file bankruptcy proceedings following the collapse of a takeover plan.

Transaero has been struggling with debt and last month a government commission arranged for most of the company’s shares to be taken over by the country’s largest carrier, state-controlled Aeroflot.

However, the takeover has collapsed in recent days and on Friday two major Russian lenders, Sberbank and Alfa Bank, announced their intention to bring bankruptcy proceedings against Transaero, according to statements on a Russian federal company register.

The Russian government now considers that bankruptcy is “the only possible option,” economy minister Alexei Ulyukaev was quoted as saying by the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. He blamed “ineffective management” at Transaero for the company’s troubles.

Transaero shares fell by over 40 per cent in Moscow trading Friday and traded at less than 10 per cent of their value compared to eight months ago.

The Russian airline sector as a whole has suffered from lower demand for foreign travel due to the fall in the value of the ruble over the last two years.

On Friday, Aeroflot’s general director Vitaly Savelyev was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Transaero could stop all flights Oct. 15, and that between 5,000 and 6,000 of Transaero’s roughly 11,500 staff could be offered jobs with Aeroflot.

Some scheduled Transaero services to destinations such as the western Russian city of Kaliningrad and the Crimean city of Simferopol on Friday and Saturday were listed as cancelled, while others were operating. Transaero had said Thursday it was revising its schedule.

Aeroflot led Russian airlines by transporting 17.28 million passengers on domestic and international routes in the first seven months of the year, compared with 9.36 million for Transaero, according to Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency. The next biggest airline, S7, transported 5.45 million passengers.

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