Authorities in Crimea plan to set up an airline to facilitate connections with Russia and encourage tourism in the picturesque Black Sea peninsula, a year after the Ukrainian territory was annexed by Moscow. The new airline initially with a fleet of six aircraft and 40 pilots will serve to 14 destinations, later rising to 36, according to a statement on the Crimean government website.
Sergei Tourik, an official with Russian manufacturer United Aircraft Company, said that the project needs 1.45 billion rubles" (22 million euros, $24 million) and profitability will not be achieved before three years.
Setting up an airline "will allow a wider range of air links between the Crimea and other regions of Russia as well as foreign cities near and far," according to the local authorities, who are aiming for 490,000 passengers in 2016.
The separation of Crimea from Ukraine has dealt a devastating blow to the photogenic region's once-booming tourism industry, with tourist numbers dropping from 5.9 million in 2013 to 3.8 million in 2014, despite Russia's efforts to subsidize package tours.