Ambitions beyond the cloud: how Vitaly Saveliev builds up Aeroflot

The general director of Russia's largest airline uses the crises in the industry for the benefit of himself and hisr company. A good relationship with Vladimir Putin plays not the least role in it.
Origin source
"If Vitaly Savelyev need to build a good relationship with you, he is very nice and gentle. If you work at it, be prepared: it can scream, stomp your feet, and you mix with the dirt. And if you're his enemy, he will stop at nothing to win. " So the general director of "Aeroflot" remembered former member of the board of directors of the airline economist Sergei Aleksashenko.

Savelyev was headed by the main carrier of the country in 2009. By changing in-law of Boris Yeltsin Valery Okulov at financier with experience in the bank "Russia" and "Menatep St. Petersburg", "Gazprom", the ministry and the AFC "System", the Kremlin hoped that the company will start a new life and will be cost-effective. And, according to Aleksashenko, Savelyev partly managed to achieve this.

But the state from time to time puts before Savelyev complex in terms of business objectives. For example, buy a competitor - "Transaero" - along with its multi-billion dollar debt. Forbes figured out how the general director of "Aeroflot" is trying to solve these problems without harming their airline.
EfficientlyFirst dictator

Since early September, daily at 10 am and 5 pm, including weekends, in the "Aeroflot" office on Novy Arbat are planning meetings, or as they are called employees "headquarters." According to the decision of the government commission on the first vice-premier Igor Shuvalov "Aeroflot" took control of the airline "Transaero" and at the same time its debt - 260 billion rubles. Solution associated problems (duplicating cancellation of flights, passenger transportation, negotiate with creditors and counterparties) - the main theme of "headquarters".

Insisting on the move "Transaero" in "Aeroflot" group of officials laid down a condition: all obligations to passengers should be performed after the second "AirUnion", in bankruptcy which in airports around the world day and night were passengers of the alliance, no one needs. "This order of government, and we must fulfill it. It will be difficult, but "Aeroflot" will be one of the largest airlines in the world "- a farewell to his subordinates gave Saveliev the first" headquarters ", dedicated to" Transaero ". The person responsible for the project on theHe appointed his deputy, Sales and Property Dmitry Saprykin, and the rest ordered to help him.

Discipline at Savel'ev military: if someone is late to the "headquarters" at least for a couple of minutes, the boss "will erase in a powder," says the man of "Aeroflot" the general director of environment. However, it is not only "Transaero".

In dealing with subordinates Savelyev - a true dictator and the same stiffness requires all senior managers "Aeroflot" group.

Saprykin, Deputy to work with Vadim Zingman customers, deputy finance Shamil Kurmashov that came with Savelyev of AFK "Sistema", close to him in temperament, but otherwise did not work with him, the source of Forbes explains. Such a fate befell Vladimir Gorbunov, head first "Dobrolet" (now the "Victory") - loukostera, launched in 2014, "Aeroflot". Before joining "Dobrolet" Gorbunov headed the private low-budget airline "Avianova" (owned investment company A1) and seemingly gained experience. But a few days after the start of contrailway tickets "Dobrolet" Savelyev has replaced the general director of the airline. Forbes source close Savelyev believes that Gorbunov was too intelligent and gentle: rose to the position "as you please", and the head of "Aeroflot" believes that it is a losing position for the top manager.

For example, it was necessary to negotiate basing "Dobrolet" Vnukovo and Domodedovo. The issue is complex, as these airports have had their basic airline - "UTair", "Transaero" (Vnukovo) and the S7 (Domodedovo). But Gorbunov did not dare to communicate directly with the owners or managers of airports and to seek their permission to basing and discounts. It was necessary to put pressure on the Federal Air Transport Agency to ministry quickly issued a carrier operator certificate, but did not come to this Gorbunov. As a result, all the organizational work was "Aeroflot" command.

Now aeroflotovskie loukosterov "Victory" led by Andrei Kalmykov, tough manager, who worked in the "Aeroflot" deputy Savelyev on commerce and production. The business has a biography Kalmikovaat least one unpleasant episode. In 2013, he was suspended from his duties because of the criminal case. Law enforcement authorities suspected Kalmikova in providing benefits travel agencies belonging to his relatives (before joining the "Aeroflot" Kalmykov founded the "Sunrise Tour Group" company, the tour operator). The criminal case is not closed, but traffic on it is not, and has not filed charges Kalmykov. So Savelyev it does not interfere, because he is convinced of the innocence of a slave and his punching qualities. Kalmykov always goes ahead, in addition, according to one of the employees, "he's a good greedy, he likes to save on everything that loukostera just good". Savelyev like it.

Dear friend

Employees of "Aeroflot" know that the CEO is polite, but not with subordinates and with partners and friends, who can benefit. Saveliev in communication is very comfortable, no other way to say, the head of consulting company Infomost Boris Rybak: "It is quite civilized, not clamped, but not too familiar. appreciatorysmiling in business, but it does not show off, some, interesting to talk to him. " Familiar Savelyev says General Director of "Aeroflot" can actually be a very good company and even a partner: it does not compromise the enemy only if this compromise productivity. That is beneficial to "Aeroflot".

In 2013, a tender for the promotion of the brand in the airline's Internet won by Tina Kandelaki "Apostle Media".

Services "Apostle Media" Savelyev was pleased, but it did not help us win Kandelaki in two tenders of "Aeroflot" in the video production in 2014.

They won the production studio "Rivelti groups" and "FreshProdakshn +". "They just took to do the job for less money, and Saveliev said:" It is necessary to conclude a contract with them, and Tina, I'll explain everything, "- he says Forbes said.

Another example - the purchase of Boeing aircraft. In 2007, when Valery Okulov "Aeroflot" has ordered the American producer 22 wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliner. But after a few years, even when Savelyev, elucidatingilos that the Dreamliner has severely delayed. The new General Director of "Aeroflot" took advantage of the situation and in 2011 Boeing proposed to sell at a huge discount of 50% of 16 aircraft to replace the Boeing 777 Dreamliner. The Americans were forced to agree, they hoped that the latest "Aeroflot" and buy a Boeing 787. But in 2015 Savelyev rather harshly made clear that the "Dreamliner" of the company are no longer needed.

Similar episodes with a variety of partners, including the owners of airports, a lot. According to the man from the environment Saveliev, CEO of the airline on excellent terms with many contractors, but if they cease to make concessions or become too intrusive, not a trace remains of the former friendship.

Straight line

In one interview that Saveliev gave back in the 1990s, working in the bank "Russia", he admitted that as a child dreamed of becoming a minister of construction. The dream did not come true, and now on the post of the General Director of "Aeroflot" he is trying to "build" of officials.

According to Forbes interlocutor in Savelyev's environment, from the candidate for the master of the sport of boxing in communicating with officialsikami two strong argument - "if you do not, you are enemies of the state" and "I'll complain to Putin."

"Officials who are accustomed to a more relaxed mode, by such pressure and stunned, as a general rule, compromise", - said the familiar Saveliev. This does not mean that the CEO foot opens the door to President Putin and he solves all the issues considered Aleksashenko. But it sure is a direct connection: he can come and tell Putin about the problems.

"Dobrolet" - a good example of a particular resource lobbying Vitaly Saveliev. The concept of creating loukostera born in 2012 in "Aeroflot" as a response to allegations of high prices for tickets. Saveliev the idea caught fire and was able to get agreement to launch loukostera personally by Putin. He wrote on the project shown Saveliev, "immediately to fulfill."

However, then the process stalled, says the man from the environment Saveliev. The relevant departments believed that "Aeroflot" demanded too much - change Air Code for the introduction of non-paymentGOVERNMENTAL tickets, to cancel the mandatory food on flights, baggage allowance to adjust and allow work in the Russian civil aviation to foreigners. Officials and deputies, who were required to amend the aviation and labor legislation, shrugged and said that they can run low-cost airlines, and so as to change the laws are too difficult.

General Director of "Aeroflot" was furious, tells his friend. Build on unfavorable conditions a new company and to repeat the fate of the ruined Sky Express and "Avianova" Savelyev was not going to. He and his assistants wrote letters, went to the meeting and even threatened. According to one of the negotiators, these letters and visits have been a few hundred and a half years. Gradually, frightened and tortured officials and deputies gave up and made all the necessary adjustments, says Forbes said.

Konstantin Teterin, the acting director general of the closed loukostera "Avianova" after Gorbunova believes that low-budget projects in Russia it is impossible, because their operating model has been distorted by includingdue to the imperfection of the Russian legislation, which Savelyev managed to change. According to him, non-refundable ticket, baggage and pay the power significantly affect the cost reduction loukostera business.

The operation to change the legislation for "Dobrolet" could spend only Savelyev, emphasizes the executive director of the agency "AviaPort" Oleg Panteleyev. "If a investor came in and said:" I need here these four conditions, and then I will build you a low-cost airlines ", he would not have to rewrite the law and aviation regulations. At the same time he "Aeroflot" by the introduction of non-performing tariff could save a lot of money ", - the expert believes.

However, Saveliev and obtain approval of Putin's failed once. Aleksashenko recalls that introduce non-refundable rate and allow foreign pilots to work in the Russian company's CEO asked Putin before the fateful decision to create a discounter. According to him, "Aeroflot" were able to take it and at some point there was a good strategy, which implies a certain amount of selfOlets and pilots. However, it became clear that this amount no pilots in Russia. When Savelyev reported to Putin about it for the first time, he did not get the support, said Aleksashenko.

In August 2014 the project Savelyev was in a critical situation. The EU imposed sanctions against "Dobrolet" because of the flight to the Crimea. European counterparties canceled leasing and insurance contracts with the airline. General Director of "Aeroflot" has taken a tough stance - both low-cost airlines with a new name and a license for the flights, although some of the staff of "Aeroflot" can be restarted quickly offered to give up loukostera. And here was useful special mode again, which operates the general director of "Aeroflot". The head of one of the airports of Forbes said, that Savelyev and his people insisted on a substantial discount on the service, as the project "personally approved by Putin and the country needs." A month loukosterov restarted with the speaker called "Victory". Today, the company makes about 20 daily flights from Vnukovo. In late October loukosterov received permission to fly not only nabout Russia, but also in Belarus, Germany, Slovakia and France.
Virtuoso performer

Savelyev not only successfully achieves the right decisions for themselves in government offices. Often it is necessary to fulfill the orders of the state, despite the fact that they are not always consistent with the interests of "Aeroflot". Among these tasks - the exploitation of domestic aircraft Sukhoi Superjet 100, the quality of which many pilots make claims, maintain low ticket prices in Sochi during the Olympics, the so-called social tariffs for flights in the Crimea and the Far East. Familiar Savelyev says that a payment for the so-called royalties - payments that "Aeroflot" receives from foreign airlines for Siberian overflights since Soviet times.

The dependence of the economy on the airlines of that money has always been a reproach to the heads of "Aeroflot", and Savelyev no exception. Aleksashenko recalls that in 2009 the Board of Directors set the task: to work in the Trans-Siberian 0+ excluding payments. "If the company does not go never in damages - this is a very good result, homoth that the passenger - being cynical when one ticket is half the price of another, the passenger takes the cheapest ticket. It can not be forced to pay more if there is some competition. "

But "Aeroflot" even in the best years are not always turned out to work without any loss, net cash from foreign airlines.

In 2010 net profit under IFRS amounted to 7.7 billion rubles against 12.3 billion rubles Transsiberian payments in 2012 - 5.2 billion rubles against 15.6 billion rubles. And in 2014 "Aeroflot" showed a loss of 17 billion rubles, but it has received from foreign airlines 21.6 billion rubles. Man surrounded by Saveliev contends that "Transsiberian" money "Aeroflot" spends not on himself, but just for social projects. One only subsidize the Far Eastern traffic - retention payment of $ 18 000 for round-trip flights (except for a similar state program) annually costs "Aeroflot" at $ 150 million and this is without subsidies flight in Crimea, the support Skolkovo, operating Sukhoi Superjet..

History Superjet - a long-standing headache & laquo; Aeroflot ". "Everyone understands that it nedotyagivaet by the performance, but we can do nothing," - says the source in the airline. Arguments of the State: the creation of a domestic aircraft spent billions of dollars, and "Aeroflot" is simply obliged to use it wherever possible. The contract for the supply of these aircraft was signed with Valery Okulov, and then the "Aeroflot" has received very favorable conditions. However Savelyev does not get tired to remind how much his company has done for the Superjet. "I am confident that this argument has to be used repeatedly in different discussions," - said Oleg Panteleyev of "Aviaport".

At some point between the head of the United Aircraft Corporation (it is composed of Sukhoi Superjet developer - the company "Sukhoi Civil Aircraft"), Mikhail Pogosyan, and the conflict began Saveliev. Savelyev required to finalize the airplane, and Poghosyan accused "Aeroflot" in the inability to use the technology, citing the experience of its operation in Mexico.

In late 2014, Putin called on the heads of the carpet and actedthe role of arbitrator. Soon Pogosyan resigned. However, the familiar Poghosyan is sure hardly conflict with Saveliev was the cause of the resignation of the head of the KLA, except that one of the reasons. Criticism of "Aeroflot" has benefited Superjet project, and "coercion" of airlines to buy new development - a common practice that when Airbus released its aircraft A300, Air France and Lufthansa, which were then state-owned companies had to support the European manufacturer.

Any socially significant actions Savelyev implements so that simultaneously solve important problems for the company and get the benefit directly, said Oleg Panteleyev of "Aviaport".

Take the story of the "Transaero".

Initially Savelyev was categorically opposed to the transition "Transaero", together with the debt under control, "Aeroflot".

At a meeting with Shuvalov, he threatened to resign because of such debt could bring down the company, said two of the Forbes source environment Saveliev. It was not a negotiating position, and a real threat, says one of them.

Here are the conditions under which he agreed to do "Trudynsaero ": the banks to write off loans or cover them with state guarantees, but" Aeroflot "will assume a lease duty" Transaero "in the amount of 80 billion rubles; State declines "Aeroflot" social burden, which the airline spent his net income, such as contributions to Skolkovo in the amount of $ 20 million annually; owners "Transaero" - Pleshakov family - pass "Aeroflot" at least 75% + 1 share of the company (in Pleshakov was not more than 50%, the rest they had to buy or collect from other shareholders until September 30). Otherwise, the transaction will not be. Shuvalov understood that in addition to "Aeroflot" to transport passengers can not be anyone, and was aware that it will turn back to the airline serious financial burden, knows federal official. "If you call friend and say, tomorrow you will settle my mother with a bunch of relatives, and you have to feed all of them three times a day and pay for their loans, and even they like your dresser - though take away. So in fact it is impossible, therefore Shuvalov as possible as I could, supported Savelyev: no one was interested in the fact thats "Aeroflot" collapsed ", - says Forbes said.

Although the deal did not materialize, Savelyev could claim that he had done everything he could: it Pleshakova not collect the necessary "Aeroflot" package. Total operations: the main competitor there, its air operator certificate revoked; completing the project without a social explosion, "Aeroflot" has received 56 international routes "Transaero" and agreed with the lessors of the assignment of his fleet. And nothing more is necessary. other people will deal with the multi-billion dollar debt. The day before the Federal Air Transport Agency revoked operator certificate, the decision to buy "Transaero" said co-owner of S7 Group Vladislav Filev. His wife Natalia Filev said that the transition of the "Transaero" routes and aircraft to the "Aeroflot" for the new owner is not afraid: "There were other routes and aircraft." "Aeroflot" has fulfilled the task of transporting passengers "Transaero" - his honor and praise, although in general, it should be responsible for the Ministry of Transport ", - said Filev.

According to the familiar Saveliev, general director of "Aeroflot" toAine is ambitious and wants to go down in history. "I do not remember that I thought he was wrong opinion. Working in "Gazprom", he always acted in the interests of "Gazprom", - recalls his former colleague on "Gazprom" Alexander Ryazanov. Then there was a change of generations (after leaving Vyakhirev -. Forbes), it was necessary to find out where to go cash flows. "Saveliev made them more transparent. And then suddenly left the company ", - says Ryazanov. In 2009, one of the former managers of "Vedomosti" gas monopoly told the newspaper that Savelyev's ambitions did not like the head of "Gazprom" Alexei Miller. On the scale of "Aeroflot" can not be compared with "Gazprom", but the industry is a leader, and there Savelyev plays first violin.