767s in Russia Pt1: Transaero
Transaero's Boeing 767 operations didn't get off to the most auspicious beginnings. Their first aircraft was a 767-3Q8ER leased from ILFC and registered N601LF. She arrived in March 1998 new from Boeing and was named Oreol. Unfortunately though 1998 was a time of expansion for the airline it was also the year of the catastrophic Ruble crisis (see here for further details of its impact on Transaero). Forced to rationalise its fleet and save money the aircraft was returned to ILFC by June 1999.
Subsequently she has had a career far removed from Russian skies. Initially she moved to LAPA Argentina as LV-ZPL but was returned to the lessor in September 2001. She stayed in Argentina however and joined Southern Winds as LV-ZYV. Only three months later she was leased to Air Atlanta Icelandic as TF-ARA but was almost immediately sub-leased back to Southern Winds. They returned her to Air Atlanta in January 2004 but again she stayed in South America as ILFC then leased her to LAN Chile (as CC-CML). She was transferred to LAN Ecuador in November 2008 as HC-CGZ, when winglets were added, but was back with the parent by January 2010. She remains in service with LAN.
Transaero meanwhile was able to weather the storm and began to rebuild its fleet in the early 2000s even though the crisis had seen it shrink from the 3rd biggest Russian airline to the 7th. The new fleet was based around Boeing 737s and 767s (a single A310 was operated from 2000-2004 also). From 2002 the first Boeing 737-300s joined (followed by series 400s the next year) and in later years (post 2008) these were followed by a substantial fleet of 737-500s, 700s and 800s.
Initially Transaero focused on its international scheduled and charter operations to sunspot destinations, which the 767 was ideal for. Transaero's purchase of used 747s has already been discussed here. The first 767s to rejoin the fleet were a pair of series 216ERs originally with LAN. They arrived in July and August 2002 and wore Irish registrations (as would all subsequent Transaero 767s).
Sadly unlike the 1998 and 2008 financial crises Transaero was unable to survive the 2014 crisis caused by the major falls in the price of oil (and the resulting impact on Russia as a major exporter) and sanctions resulting from Russia's adventures in Ukraine. By then it was the second biggest airline operating in Russia having carried over 11 million passengers between January and October 2015. Its expansionist policy should have setup it up for being well positioned to survive but as has been the case several times when an unexpected economic crisis overcomes Russia only Aeroflot comes away stronger.
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: