Flights meet schedule

Igor Cherginets, Belavia’s Deputy Director General, tells how his airline is preparing for the forthcoming Ice Hockey World Championship
Igor Cherginets, Belavia’s Deputy Director General, tells our MT correspondent how his airline is preparing for the forthcoming Ice Hockey World Championship and also about tackling other issues.

An increased number of air flights are planned during the world event. We are ready for this. In the coming days, our fleet will be augmented with the addition of two new Еmbraer-195 planes after the signing of the relevant contracts, last year, with the Brazilian producer. Our company will receive these new planes directly from the manufacturing factory.

With the championship fast approaching, we are regularly receiving requests from tourist organisations to transport groups of foreign guests. In particular, we’ve been asked to launch additional flights from Helsinki and Stockholm. At the moment, we are processing over a dozen requests for charter flights — including for the transportation of hockey teams. The latter is truly pleasing, as national teams usually approach their own air companies. Such requests indicate a high level of trust.

Are you planning to introduce additional security measures?

This issue primarily refers to our airport. In the coming weeks, its reconstruction will be complete and I think it will enjoy all possible measures to ensure the security and comfort of our passengers. We share a single major goal with the airport — to offer world class passenger services.

Global standards envisage fleet renewal. You’ve already mentioned the two new Embraer planes, but are you planning to buy more?

Apart from them, two new Boeing-737-300 aircraft will arrive in June; talks are underway now. This necessity is caused by an increased number of charter flights during the summer season. This is a special topic of discussion. The programme of summer flights is normally prepared in winter, but this year, we’ve faced an emergency situation — caused mostly by the Ukrainian situation. Our tourist companies, which traditionally offer tours to Bulgaria by land transport, do not wish to take the risk — especially when transporting groups of children. Therefore, additional charter flights are needed. It’s not natural for the aviation industry when planes are waiting in a shed — like a taxi; this is inefficient management. The situation is not simple but we need to solve it. With this in mind, a decision was made to purchase new Boeing planes and to employ more pilots. At present, Belavia’s fleet numbers 22 planes but, in June, it’s should rise to 26.

Is it true that an air company is safer if it has a fleet of younger planes?

I’ll continue asserting that, like a woman, planes have no age — if they are well cared for and technically serviced. However, another notion exists: airworthiness. This means that a plane is either serviceable for flights or not. No half-measures are acceptable here. The age of a plane plays a minor role. Newer planes are more economical, but that is a different story.

Not long ago, Belavia celebrated its 18th anniversary. In a relatively short period of air servicing life, it has established a reputation — becoming one of the safest European companies. What is the reason?

We rely on the Soviet school of aviation which has been very reliable and professional. Our company has preserved the previous standards, and continues to develop and improve them whilst taking into consideration modern realities and possibilities. We are now able to offer the most advanced services, and our passengers have no need to worry.
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