Saratov Airlines owner applied to launch new airline
On June 1, 2018, Saratov Airlines owner Arkady Evstafiev applied to Russian Federal Air Transport Aviation with a request to establish a new airline under the old brand name.
Russian Ministry of Transport confirmed to local media RIA News receiving the request to issue a new Air Operator Certificate (AOC) with the old name of Saratov Airlines. In consonance with the rules, Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has 60 days to review the application and take the final decision.
Evstafiev first revealed new airline plans on May 30, 2018 - a day after the AOC of Saratov airlines was revoked. Following negotiations with Evstafiev, the Ministry of Transport announced that Saratov Airlines owner is now planning “to move to a new level of the flight operation initially, which includes the goals of saving the workforce and securing public employment”, as informs the local media TACC .
According to TACC, on June 1, 2018, Saratov Ministry of Employment, Labor and Migration reported Saratov Airlines plan to fire all the employees in Saratov and other regions by September 10, 2018. In this situation a new company establishment may be the solution to save workplaces, as noted by the Ministry administration.
After Saratov Airlines Flight 703 crash on February 11, 2018, which resulted in 71 deaths, the investigation of Saratov Airlines started. Russian Federal Air Transport Agency immediately limited the airline’s AOC, prohibiting AN-148 flights, while the company still could operate remaining four airliners. Authorities pointed at aviation rules violations and asked Saratov Airlines to fix the existing problems until the end of April 2018.
In March 2018, Saratov Airlines announced they had taken corrective actions and sent the application on flight renewals. However, it was noticed that the list occasionally contained the crashed airplane and its crew. The head of Russian Federal Air Transport Agency Alexandr Neradzko regarded this as an “unprecedented and irresponsible attitude from the company authorities” and on behalf of the organization offered Saratov Airlines cease operations on its own free will.
In April 2018, Saratov Airlines decided to change their brand name to Ivolga Airlines. The move supposedly was taken not to save the company, but as a long-planned rebranding step, taken to avoid negative associations.
On May 30, 2018, Saratov (or Ivolga) Airlines Air Operation Certificate finally revoked by the Russian aviation authorities. Among the main reasons, as Russian Ministry of Transport has explained, were violations of aviation rules, including excess of the maximum flight duty period and skipping the pilot mandatory testing before the flight.
Even though the flights were halted straight away on May 30, 2018, the company still continues to operate as a legal entity with 1000 employed workers.