U.S. Fly Ban on Russian Companies Invokes Leadership Changes in Largest Carrier

Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot has announced its Board of Directors has re-elected Vitaly Savelyev as CEO for a term of five years.

The appointment was approved on 28 August 2018 at a meeting of the Board of Directors chaired by Mikhail Poluboyarinov, pursuant to a Directive from the Russian government, the company said.

Vitaly Savelyev has led Aeroflot since his appointment on 10 April 2009. At that time, the Company was considered a regional carrier by global standards and ranked 68th internationally with passenger traffic of 8.6 million (11.1 million including subsidiaries).

In 2010 Russia’s President Vladimir Putin tasked Savelyev with creating Russia’s first full-fledged airline group. The state transferred a number of regional carriers to Aeroflot’s management, and from these assets the construction of Aeroflot Group began. Following the transformation the Group included Russia’s second biggest airline Rossiya Airlines (created from St. Petersburg-based regional airline Rossiya, as well as Donavia and Orenburg Airlines) and Far Eastern airline Aurora (created out of SAT Airlines and Vladivostok Avia).

The creation of Russia’s first-ever genuine low-cost carrier, Pobeda, as part of Aeroflot Group represented a genuine breakthrough for both Savelyev and the company.

However, the threat of U.S. sanctions against the company and the possibility of a complete ban on U.S.-Russia flights have taken a toll on Aeroflot’s share price this year.

Bloomberg reported that in early August, the company’s share plummeted to a two-year low after the U.S. State Department announced new sanctions against Russia to punish President Vladimir Putin’s government for allegedly using a chemical weapon against former double agent Sergei Skripal in the U.K. earlier this year. A second round of sanctions in three months could include suspending Aeroflot’s flights to the U.S, according to the 1991 law under which they were imposed.

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