Why air flights are massively canceled in Siberia – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Fifteen remote settlements in Western and Eastern Siberia were left without flights. In the Tomsk Region, the Republic of Altai and Transbaikalia, passenger transportation on domestic flights has been stopped.

Small aviation in Siberia has become even smaller. The SiLA airline has notified the government of three regions of the suspension of flights on intraregional routes. During the autumn thaw period, residents of several villages were left without connection with the mainland. For example, the Tomsk village of Novy Vasyugan, where more than 2 thousand people live, can only be reached by a large river or by a winter road. Navigation has already been stopped today, and the ice will “rise” at the end of November at best. And for residents of the city of Kedrovy, one of the most remote from Tomsk, the plane is practically the only way to get home. Kedrovy does not have a permanent land connection with the road network of Russia. There is a seven-hour road to the mountainous Altai villages of Kosh-Agach and Ust-Koksa. But it’s too dangerous on the ice-covered passes. And by plane from Gorno-Altaysk it was easy to fly there with comfort in just an hour.

At the airports of Transbaikalia, more and more “Cancel” signs light up on the online scoreboard every day. Moreover, flights are canceled not only within the region, but also in Irkutsk.

– To date, we have stopped flights to eight settlements: Ust-Karenga, Yumurchen, Krasny Yar, Menza, Krasny Chikoy, Krasnokamensk, Usugli, Tungokochen, – explains the Deputy Minister of Construction, Roads and Transport of the Territory Sergey Krivoshchekov. – Almost all settlements have alternative transport links, with the exception of three located in the Tungokochensky region: Krasny Yar, Yumurchen, Ust-Karenga. Our planes flew to these settlements only twice a month, so there was no such great need. But still they are now cut off. There, the delivery of products was carried out either by the river – they were delivered by boats, or in the winter period by autowinter.

This year has turned out to be extremely difficult for the Siberian airline “SiLA”. In July, the An-28, which took off from Tomsk to Kedrovy with 15 passengers on board, disappeared from the radar almost immediately after the climb. The pilots managed to land a board with two failed engines in the taiga. All survived. But after the plane crash, the carrier lost the aircraft. The company began numerous inspections, which continue to this day. And in September, the L-410 aircraft operated by the airline made a hard landing in the Irkutsk region. Four people were killed.

– Rumors that “SilA” is exhausted does not correspond to reality, – the head of the airline, Andrey Bogdanov, told RG. – Our fleet is in perfect order. Recently we launched new flights from Tomsk to Krasnoyarsk. And the decision to stop flights at 15 sites was made solely in connection with the entry into force of the government decree No. 1603 of the Russian Federation of October 5, 2020. Otherwise, the airline faces administrative liability. And in case of a relapse – a criminal case. Almost all flights to small airports were subsidized from regional budgets. This is a fairly tangible amount for us, which will have to be abandoned. But there is no other way out. We are obliged to comply with legal requirements.

According to Bogdanov, “Sila” was not the first to stop intra-regional passenger transportation. A number of helipads have already been closed in Kamchatka.

A new government decree introduced increased requirements for transport safety at landing sites and heliports. By October 2021, small airports needed to be significantly upgraded. This includes installing special fences with alarms, organizing access control and video surveillance, installing communication systems, alerting, collecting and processing information, recruiting a staff of rapid response teams, and so on. However, in the regions they could not find funds for the reconstruction of sites – these are tens of millions of rubles.

“The new requirements are practically impracticable for the majority of operators of small landing sites,” says Sergei Zhvachkin, Governor of the Tomsk Region. – This is a real problem for such huge territories as ours. Special fences with alarms, online video surveillance and round-the-clock patrolling are simply unrealistic for remote and sparsely populated areas. The new requirements are excessive for small villages in the deep taiga, and this is not only a Tomsk problem.

In Transbaikalia alone, 232 million rubles will be required to re-equip small airports in small settlements. According to Sergei Krivoshchekov, the assistance of the federal authorities will be required to carry out these works. The regional Ministry of Construction began negotiations with the Ministry of Transport of Russia on the allocation of funds. In response, we received a statement that a decree on the abolition of the introduced requirements is already being prepared, it should be adopted in the fourth quarter of this year.

In the Tomsk region, it is necessary to find about 75 million rubles to meet safety requirements at three landing sites. And to maintain these requirements, it will take about 5 million rubles more – for each runway. Local authorities believe that the issue of transport accessibility of people is no less important than its safety. Therefore, a compromise is needed.

The authorities of both the Tomsk region and the Altai Republic also applied to the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation and the federal government with a request to revise the new requirements for small airports. Tomichi ask the federal center to postpone the entry into force of the new requirements and introduce a differentiated approach, taking into account the intensity of flights and the type of landing site.

“We don’t have Sheremetyevo-2 here”

The landing sites in Kosh-Agach and Ust-Koks of the Altai Republic can hardly be called an airfield: it is a flat dirt area on which light-engine aircraft land. No concrete runway, no capital structures.

“We don’t have Sheremetyevo-2 here,” Sergey Kruglov, director of the Gorno-Altaisk airport, commented on the situation to the RG correspondent. – In the mountain villages, we simply will not find security specialists, it is not the same to hire shepherds who graze sheep.

At the same time, experts are sure that delays and transitional periods will not help matters. The cost of re-equipping one landing site of 25-30 million and the subsequent costs of maintaining “safe” equipment will never pay off.

“Small aviation is unprofitable all over the world, it won’t work without government subsidies,” Sergei Kruglov is sure. – Therefore, the requirements for anti-terrorist security for small rural landing sites should be canceled. Otherwise, the industry will collapse and we will return to the 1990s. Now it turns out that the state, on the one hand, introduces subsidies for flights to remote cities and villages, and on the other, accepts such requirements that put an end to these flights. As a result, the already allocated federal and regional budget funds for subsidies will remain unclaimed.

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