The debt of 720 thousand rubles, which, according to the management of Alliance Profeco LLC, is the basis for initiating bankruptcy proceedings, causes particular amazement: Gazprom, to pay such an amount that a mosquito shift worker slams on his nose.
Even more strange is the information about the possible bankruptcy of the airline against the background of the activity that it has shown throughout the past year: several domestic helicopters were purchased, before that the fleet was actively replenished with superjets from the Sukhoi design bureau.
In addition, Gazprom, for the sake of its “daughter”, has seriously invested in Levashovo Airport near St. Petersburg, which will be used both for the needs of civil aviation and the Ministry of Defense. Design and construction work cost the company 10 billion rubles. The grand opening took place in December 2022, just before the New Year.
But the situation looks absurd only at first glance. Cases are known when bankruptcy procedures for companies that are firmly on their feet began with even more insignificant amounts.
Gazprom Avia was established in 1995 primarily to ensure the delivery of shift workers to the fields. And in 1997, by a government decree, on a joint basis with the Ministry of Defense, the company received its own airport in the Yuzhnoye Butovo region – Ostafyevo, located just 30 kilometers from the Kremlin. The scale with which the state corporation took on a dilapidated military airport immediately raised deep doubts that luxurious interiors, hangars for business jets, and other “chic shine” are being arranged so that bulldozer operators and drilling rig operators would be pleased to fly on watch .
Aircraft for the airport – two Falcon-900B at a price of $ 26 million each – Gazprom bought in 1995 for the then head of the corporation Rem Vyakhirev. The equipment was inherited by Alexei Miller, who replaced him, and is still in the service of Gazprom under registry numbers RA-09000 and RA-09000.
In 2007, Ostafyevo received the status of an international airport and turned into a modern hub for business aviation, with a VIP hotel, a restaurant with an in-flight catering workshop, and hangars for business jets. Equipping the airport for the top management of the company and other VIP passengers, the management of Gazprom did not skimp on expenses, without hesitating, at the same time, to pinch off from the capital’s treasury: for example, in 2013, the Moscow City Hall and Gazprom Avia reported that for the road “settlement Gas pipeline – Ostafyevo” (six-lane entrance to the airport from the Kaluga highway) “Gazprom” will pay more than 2 billion rubles, and the mayor’s office will finance the connection of the road to the citywide network.
According to the Aviatour website, the air fleet of Gazprom Avia already has 10 business class jets. The approximate cost of each is 50 million dollars. Total – half a billion “green”! And this is not counting helicopters, not all of which are designed to take shift workers to hard-to-reach fields. In 2009, for example, the Mi-171, owned by Gazprom Avia, crashed in the protected mountains of Altai, and most of the passengers, including the presidential envoy to the State Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, died. It is clear that such an incident cannot be hidden from the general public. How many poaching walks for the lives of animals listed in the Red Book were organized by the leaders of the Gazprom Avia company, and we are unlikely to find out whether such “tours” are organized now.
If everything is more or less clear with the VIP-boards of Gazprom Avia, then there are many questions about the state of the air fleet engaged in the delivery of goods and shift workers to gas fields, that is, involved in the performance of the statutory tasks of Gazprom PJSC.
For example, why did the pilots who performed the production tasks of Gazprom, including those working in the difficult conditions of the Far North, receive a salary four to five times less than their colleagues who ride top management on comfortable business jets? Why, when the President of the country all these years persistently spoke about the need to develop Russian aviation, the largest state corporation, instead of supporting the domestic aviation industry, bought used foreign aircraft, then paying foreign companies for maintenance and purchasing spare parts from them?
The pilots of Gazprom Avia, driven to despair, told about all these facts in an open letter to the then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller. Whether there was any reaction to the document is unknown.
But the fact that the largest gas producing company on the planet needs to get rid of the “non-core asset” has been repeatedly said. The head of the airline, Andrei Ovcharenko, stubbornly denied this information, proving through the media that it was “needed”. But be that as it may, Gazprom Avia has not become a self-sufficient profitable company all these years. Only last year, with impressive turnover (for 2021, the company’s revenue amounted to 23 billion rubles), Gazprom Avia LLC manages to be a loss-making enterprise: the same year 2021 was completed with a loss of 289 million rubles.
The latest facts may indicate that Gazprom is seriously fed up with the “daughter” sitting on its neck, and it is not averse to getting rid of it. Part of the assets is already being sold on the sly.
Serious players in the air transportation market prefer to buy liners manufactured by one company – this significantly reduces the cost of their maintenance, the cost of spare parts, training of flight personnel … The fleet of the company owned by Gazprom was formed contrary to this logic. The main criterion was the “coolness” of the aircraft purchased for comfortable trips of top management, on the one hand, and the maximum cheapness of the boards intended for the delivery of “labor” to the fields, on the other. As a result, we got a motley, extremely expensive, inconvenient to operate fleet, which, perhaps, the management of PJSC Gazprom wished to get rid of. Selling the company as a whole is unrealistic, the best way out is to sell it under the hammer, taking, of course, the best pieces for yourself.
LLC Allianceprofeco is a quite respectable company that provides services for environmental impact assessments of production facilities, has long-term contracts with large state and private companies, and is unlikely to encroach on the assets of an omnipotent company without prior agreements with the management of Gazprom.
But the fact that the situation may become a harbinger of a “grand nixer”, which will end with the fact that the airline with indistinct market logic will cease to exist, is quite possible. Now is not the time for the top management of the company, which is entrusted with the production, transportation and sale of Russia’s national asset – natural gas, to “play” with expensive “airplanes”.