MOSCOW, August 8 (Itar-Tass) — The investigation has appealed the decision of the Meshchansky Court of Moscow that refused to sanction the arrest of CEO and co-owner of Continent airline Vladimir Krasilnikov who is accused of fraud and intentional bankruptcy, the court’s spokeswoman Yelena Kolesnikova told Itar-Tass.
“Investigator (of the Moscow Interregional Transport Investigation Department of the RF Investigative Committee -SK) has filed a complaint against the refusal to grant his appeal for Krasilnikov’s detention in custody as a measure of restraint,” said the official.
The complaint will be reviewed by a higher authority – the Moscow City Court, however, the date is yet unknown.
On July 29, Continent declared bankruptcy, after which its Air Operator Certificate was revoked. This is due to the termination of refuelling of the Continent airline at Russian airports because of the lack of needed funding. The air carrier’s debt to airports was 32 million roubles.
After the revocation of the certificate by the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya), the company suspended flight from July 30. As a result, in the period from July 29 to July 31 alone a total of 69 flights were cancelled that were supposed to carry over 3,000 passengers.
Krasilnikov was detained as a result of an inspection in connection with mass cancellation of flights due to the company’s financial insolvency. He was charged, but the court found no grounds for the businessman’s detention in custody and he was released in the courtroom.
Earlier, a source in the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency told Itar-Tass that Continent, which announced bankruptcy and cancelled all flights, has sold 35,000 tickets to its flights up to September 11. According to the agency, as many as 1,140 Continent passengers were stuck at airports across the country on July 30. They had to board other flights to their destinations, including by VIM-Avia and Vladivostok-Avia.
Special commissions were set up to tackle the situation. “The work proceeds in several directions: money is being returned to passengers who hand back their unused tickets executed on forms of the Transport Clearing Company; some passengers with Continent tickets are admitted to vacant seats on flights performed by other airlines; additions flights were announced to take Continent passengers stranded in Anapa, Krasnodar, Sochi, Krasnoyarsk, Blagoveshchensk, and other cities,” the source said.
Spokeswoman for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office Marina Gridneva said earlier, “As of July 30, about 370 tickets have been sold to the cancelled flights.” “The West Siberian transport prosecutor’s office is conducting a check and taking all possible measures to prevent violation of passengers’ rights. Contacts have been established with other airlines to organize transportation of passengers by other flights,” she said. “West Siberian transport prosecutor’s deputy met with top official from the Krasnoyarsk administration of the Russian Air Transport Agency, Krasnoyarsk territory’s minister of industry and energy and executives from local business entities at the Krasnoyarsk airport. They outlined measures to be taken to reduce negative impacts of Continent’s bankruptcy,” she added.
Money for unused tickets sold by the Continent airlines itself may be repaid after the company sells its jet fleet. In the meantime, the source in the Air Transport Agency said the airline obtained its flight certificate this June, and its “financial standing aroused no questions at that time.”
After the airlines’ certificate was cancelled, the company’s director general Vladimir Krasilnikov was summoned to the Air Transport Agency. “He said the airlines lacked money after it bought out Tu-154M aircraft it used to lease,” the source said. According to Krasilnikov, the source noted, the company’s only liquid assets were these Tu-154M planes and the company “plans to sell them to repay money to passengers.”
Instructed by Russian Minister of Transport Igor Levitin, the Air Transport Agency requested the Prosecutor General’s Office to take adequate measures over the violation of passenger rights by the bankrupt airlines.
Moreover, the Agency initiated amendments to certification requirements to allow only airlines having a fleet of at least 20 one-type jets perform long- and medium-distance flights. Fifteen Russian airlines currently fall under this category. The rest should be classified as charter operators of regional operators.