Magadan is a city of nearly 100,000 people in the North of the Russian Far-East on the sea of Okhotsk. The city's population has decreased from over 150,000 in 1989 which is hardly surprising given its remoteness and harsh climate. The city is most famous for being the hub of Russia's Gulag network as it was the jumping off point for vast numbers of detainees sent into forced labour between 1932 and 1953. Since the forced labour involved mining gold and uranium in no doubt appalling conditions its safe to say most never returned. The nearest major city is over 2000 km away by unpaved road only passable in winter so air travel is something of a necessity!
MAVIAL Magadan Airlines was formed from the Magadan directorate of Aeroflot in 1993 and operated the usual mix of TU-154s and IL-62s. At least ten TU-154s were operated at one time or another with this frame, RA-85667 (cn 89A825), originally being delivered to Aeroflot in 1990 as CCCP-85667. She was sold to MAVIAL in 1994 but was still operating in Aeroflot colours a year later. The aircraft was leased to the Iranian airline Kish Air in 2002 as EP-LCD. She was also leased to Vladivostok Avia but returned to MAVIAL in 2005.
MAVIAL is probably most well known as one of the few operators to attempt a service between the Russian Far-East and Alaska. Alaska Airlines had operated services from 1991-1998 but even though it was profitable safety and logistical concerns following an MD-80 engine failure ended the route. Dalavia had also operated a Khabarovsk - Seattle via Anchorage service during the early 90s and Reeve Aleutian also crossed the straits too. MAVIAL's service operated around 2004-05 but only had a once weekly frequency. The airline used its TU-154Ms to operate the Magadan-Petropavlosk-Anchorage route but it was not popular and the airline lost heavily on the service.
As of the Summer 2006 Mavial Magadan Airlines operated to: Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Magadan, Moscow Domodedovo, Novosibirsk, Petropavlosk, St Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg as well as Anchorage in Alaska. The fleet in 2006 consisted of: 2 IL-62M, 3 TU-154B, 2 TU-154M down from the 1 IL-62M, 7 TU-154B, 6 TU-154M operated in 2000.
MAVIAL went bankrupt in July 2006 owing $18 million dollars and leaving many of its staff unpaid. Staff had not been paid for sometime prior to the end of services and in October 2006 many went on hunger strike. The sale of the airline's assets seems to have provided enough funds to end the hunger strike eventually. Aeroflot opened up its own services in the city and is believed to have employed some ex-MAVIAL staff and purchased assets. Certainly this TU-154 was back in Aeroflot service by 2007 though her career came to an untimely end on June 30, 2008 when she suffered and uncontained engine failure upon take-off. Fortunately the fire-fighting systems worked correctly and the fire was extinguished without any injuries. The aircraft was broken up at St Petersburg in August 2009.
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: