SAT was based at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin island's largest city with a population of over 180,000. It is another region of Russia that bakes in the summer (up to 34.7 degrees C) and freezes in the winter (down to -34.8 degrees C). It is also an area rich in natural resources, though despite this it remains quite poor with apparently the highest juvenile crime rate in Russia. SAT itself was formed on April 20, 1992 when it broke away from the Sakhalin United Air Detachment of the Far Eastern CAD.
The airline's initial equipment consisted of a sprinkling of Antonov AN-24s and AN-26s, a range of Mil and Kamov helicopters and a single Ilyushin IL-62 (RA-86566). Scheduled services connected Sakhalin to destinations within the Russian Far-East, China, Japan and South Korea. In addition charters for oil companies, survey and search and rescue operations were also undertaken.
Despite its remoteness and small size SAT was quick to obtain Western jet equipment. The airline acquired its first 737-200 (ex-Delta), RA-73003, in September 1994 which was followed by RA-73005 in June 1997. 73005 only served with SAT until July 1988 before being returned to her lessor. She was originally LN-SUS, delivered to Braathens in 1968 as their first 737. In 1989 she became SE-DKG with Transwede and then 8 months later TC-JUP with Sultan Air. In February 1993 she joined Bouraq Indonesia as PK-IJA and in 1995 Americana de Aviacion of Peru as OB-1615. RA-73003 served longer being retuirned to her lessor in 2001. Two further ex-Delta 737s joined in 2005/06. The new aircraft confusingly adopted the same registrations as the previous series 200s, but these would see longer careers with SAT.
SAT added to its fleet a single TU-154M in 1995 and bolstered this briefly with a TU-154B-1 in 2002. Both these aircraft were out of service by 2003 however. More modern equipment arrived from 2002 in the form of second-hand DHC-8s. Initially only two joined but the fleet would grow to 9 aircraft (a mix of series 100, 200 and 300s) by 2013. The initial aircraft were primarily used on oil contract flights. Further modern aircraft arrived in late October 2009 when a single 737-500 (RA-73013) was added.
The airline's colourful blue bottomed scheme, which had been introduced with the first 737s, was replaced at the arrival of the 737-500, which saw an even more eye-catching livery applied with an all red fuselage and tail. It wasn't however until 2012 that the DHC-8s would begin to wear this scheme and in fact in the meantime a modified blue scheme was applied to at least one (see above right).
SAT had been government owned, however in 2011 it was taken over by Aeroflot as part of the Russian Government's consolidation of airlines with the flag carrier. Vladivostok Avia was acquired by Aeroflot at the same time and the two airlines were amalgamated in October 2013 to form Aurora. SAT's IATA/ICAO code and callsign have been kept for the new carrier. The new airline inherited SAT's fleet of 2 737-200s, 1 737-500, 4 DHC-8s, 3 AN-24s and 2 AN-12s but has since begun to modernise its fleet with Airbus A319s.
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: