Utair Boeing 737-800 on its way to Milan had to make an emergency landing on May 14, 2019, after the flight crew failed to retract its landing gear.
The plane, registered VQ-BJH, was carrying out flight UT787 from Vnukovo airport (VKO) in Moscow, Russia, to Milan airport (MXP), Italy. After climbing at 6,000 feet, the crew attempted to retract the aircraft’s landing gear which turned out to be unresponsive.
“The commander made the decision to stop the flight,” said a representative from UTair. The aircraft burnt its fuel in the waiting area above the airport, before proceeding to an emergency landing with its faulty gear. No one was hurt according to the airport.
On August 31, 2018, another Boeing 737-800 operated by UtAir, registered VQ-BJI, was carrying out flight UT-579 on August 31, 2018, between Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) in Moscow, Russia and Sochi International Airport (AER), Russia with 164 passengers and 6 crew members on board when it exceeded the end of a runway upon landing, and stopped in a riverbed. 18 occupants were injured, eight of which were taken to a hospital. An airport employee died during the rescue operation, apparently from a heart attack.
Utair is in the midst of financial struggle. In 2018, the net loss of Utair and its subsidiaries amounted to 22 billion rubles ($337 million). Pavel Permyakov, CEO of Utair Passenger Airlines denied rumors of an interruption of flights due to bankruptcy. “The company receives a stable profit from operating activities,” he said to Russian media Gazeta, adding “in 2019, Utair will change the schedule of payments on debts in order to return to positive financial results.”
But financial problems have been recurring in the airline. In 2013, Utair scraped its fleet renewal plan and canceled an order for 24 Superjet 100. It also sold its subsidiaries Utair Express and Azur Air to stay airborne.
Out of the top five Russian airlines, Utair operates the oldest fleet. In 2018, the airline ordered 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8, with the first delivery expected for April 2019. However, the deliveries of the MAX family have been on hold since the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 on March 10, 2019, near Addis Ababa.