Vitaly Saveliev does not intend to lose control of "Aeroflot"

Ex-Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation cherishes ambitious plans.
For the post of general director of Russia's largest airline Aeroflot, a fight may unfold. As sources told Kommersant, although Vladimir Putin verbally approved the five-year extension of the acting head of the airline Vitali Saveliev, the corresponding government directive has not yet been signed. The interlocutors of Kommersant do not exclude that the former minister of transport Maxim Sokolov, nominated to the board of directors of Aeroflot, may join the fight.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Vladimir Putin approved the extension of the authority of the general director of Aeroflot Vitaly Saveliev. According to Kommersant's interlocutors in the presidential administration, approval was given "verbally after a series of meetings." But there is still no official document fixing the extension of Mr. Savelyev's powers. "His contract expires in October, and by that time a directive on reassignment must be signed," says one of Kommersant's sources close to the government (this decision will then be approved by the board of directors of the airline). The top manager of one of the enterprises of the aviation industry told Kommersant that soon after the shareholders' meeting of Aeroflot (June 25), Mr. Savelyev was received by the president, who expressed satisfaction with the results of the company and invited him to continue working. The main tasks entrusted to Vitaliy Savelyev are purchases of domestic aircraft and development of regional transportation, one of the interlocutors of Kommersant says.

In Aeroflot, the request to Kommersant was redirected to Rosimushchestvo (owns 51.2% of shares), there it was reported that there are no instructions on this issue yet. At the end of June, during the shareholders meeting of the state company, Mr. Savelyev said that the decision to extend the powers "is not his personal, but the government." Representatives of the Ministry of Transport and vice-premier Maxim Akimov, supervising transport, declined to comment.

According to sources, "Kommersant", before the end of the contract Vitali Saveliev in the industry began to discuss the possibility of his replacement. In particular, it was said that the new head of Aeroflot could be the chairman of the board of directors of the company, the first deputy chairman of VEB Mikhail Poluboyarinov. In addition, several members of the team of Mr. Savelyev left the group early in the year: in March, the deputy head of Aeroflot for strategy and alliances, Giorgio Callegari, left, and a month and a half later - deputy general director for commerce and finance Shamil Kurmashov.

It is not the first time that they have spoken about the possible change of management of Aeroflot on the market. Since 2016, the industry has repeatedly discussed the option according to which Vitali Saveliev could go on raising, taking up the post of Minister of Transport. These assumptions were a consequence of the expectations of the rearrangements in the Ministry of Transport: the minister Maxim Sokolov was then actively invited to the governors of St. Petersburg instead of Georgy Poltavchenko. The situation changed at the end of 2017. After Vladimir Putin announced to Mr. Sokolov about incomplete service correspondence due to the crisis with VIM-Avia, they started talking about the possible resignation of the minister, but personnel changes were postponed until the presidential election in March 2018.

Sources of Kommersant in the industry now do not exclude that Maxim Sokolov, who lost his post to his first deputy Eugene Dietrich, can return to leadership positions, but in the industry, for example, to the same post of the general director of Aeroflot. "Now it is important to choose an ex-minister such a post that would not be inferior to the importance of the previous post", - said one of the sources of Kommersant. Indirect confirmation of the possible appointment of Mr. Sokolov, in the opinion of Kommersant's interlocutors, may be his nomination by the Ministry of Transport to the board of directors of Aeroflot. Russia will claim nine seats on the council, now there are eight state representatives. According to Kommersant's interlocutors, in favor of Maxim Sokolov and the "age factor": Vitali Savelyev is 64 years old, and the leadership of the airline for another five years "may require considerable energy and energy."

The executive director of the "Airport" Oleg Panteleev notes that during the management of Vitaly Saveliev Aeroflot showed a significant increase in production and financial results, now the group is preparing a new development strategy with strengthening its positions in the Russian and world markets. The removal of infrastructure restrictions in Sheremetyevo also opens new prospects for the carrier. Therefore, according to the expert, it is logical, if the implementation of the strategy is imposed on the one who developed it. Mr. Panteleev noted that the practice of transferring officials to senior positions in the state company exists, but the candidate will need time to fully immerse himself in all processes and create a new team.