Russia’s TASS news agency has reported that two of VIM Airlines’ aircraft have been seized at international airports in Turkey and Belgium.
Analysis of FlightRadar24 data shows that Boeing 777-21H(ER) VP-BMR (MSN 7192) and Boeing 777-31H VP-BSF (MSN 29067) in Antalya and Liège since September 25th.
Alexander Neradko from Russia’s aviation agency Rosaviatsia stated:
“It is clear now the airline will not be able to carry passengers of charter flights using its resources. Its jets are under attachment due to debts in Antalya and Dalaman airports of the Republic of Turkey and in Liege airport.”
He added that VIM’s owner, Rashid Mursekaev, was quitting the aviation business and wanted to sell the airline for one ruble.
The news comes hot on the heels of a criminal proceeding that has been brought against VIM by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SLDKOM), which alleges that the airlines has been engaged in a large-scale fraud.
SLDKOM says that VIM has continued to sell tickets, even though they were aware that they couldn’t pay their fuel costs and transport passengers, thus deceitfully earning RUB1 million (US$17,000).
All of VIM’s flights from and to Domodedovo airport have been cancelled, with other carriers scrambling to carry passengers holding VIM tickets. Rosaviatsia has set aside RUB200 million (USD3.45 million) to compensate airlines who pick up VIM’s slack, while a number of VIM aircraft have been ferried to Vnukovo for use in repatriating the airline’s 150,000 stranded passengers.
According to an analysis of FlightRadar24 ADS-B data by ch-aviation, the VIM fleet currently actively operating from/to Vnukovo includes two A319s, one A330-200, two B757-200s, one B767-300(ER), four B777-200(ER)s and one B777-300(ER).
Another VIM B777-200(ER) is still actively operating Hajj charters on behalf of its Saudi customer flynas.
Although facing imminent closure, VIM’s media team has been anxiously issuing press releases to reassure passengers. The airline also advised that it has paid RUB60 million (USD1 million) towards staff wages to bring it up to date as at July 2017.
Members of VIM management will reportedly not be paid until all subordinate staff wages have been cleared.