Baikal Airlines (Baikalavia) was formed from several flights of the East Siberian CAD / Irkutsk UAD in 1991 taking over Aeroflot services from the major East-Siberian city of Irkutsk. Irkutsk had a population of over 600,000 in the early 90s (now down to just over 590,000) and is located on the shores of Lake Baikal itself (the world's largest lake by volume and also its oldest).
On April 28, 1994 Baikal became the second airline in Russia (after Transaero) to put the Boeing 757 into operation when it accepted N321LF on lease from ILFC. This aircraft introduced the new livery, but had to be returned to the lessor two years later when the Russian government demanded that import duties be paid on it. The aircraft later went to Avianca, then Air Finland and is now a freighter with FedEx.
The precarious financial position of Russia during the 90s and competition from Sibir combined to damage the airline's finances. Plans to merge with Chitaavia were announced in April 1998, however the financial crisis of that year ended that opportunity and forced the airline into bankruptcy in September. Operations were restarted in 1999 but the airline appears to have collapsed again late that year or in 2000.
The airline's license was withdrawn in late 2001 and several of the fleet ended up with Sibir (later S7 Airlines). RA-85690 dated from 1990 when she was delivered to Aeroflot as CCCP-85690. Leased to Daallo Airlines in late 2001 she was taken over by S7 Airlines and was still operational with them in 2008.
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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: