September 28, 2017 / 7:04 PM / a year ago

Russian government says Aeroflot to support struggling carrier VIM Airlines

A Vim Airlines plane is parked at the Domodedovo Airport outside Moscow, Russia, April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled airline Aeroflot (AFLT.MM) will help private carrier VIM Airlines after it asked for financial aid from the state, the Russian government said in a statement on Thursday.

VIM Airlines, also known as VIM-AVIA, has canceled or delayed dozens of flights for the past few days as it requested state aid to keep it afloat.

The statement said Aeroflot’s board of directors was to meet on Thursday to discuss ways to support the operations of VIM airlines but did not say how much it would contribute.

A source in the air transportation industry told Reuters that Aeroflot, which is majority state-owned, would spend some 1.85 billion roubles ($31.92 million) to support VIM Airlines.

Aeroflot did not mention VIM Airlines in a statement on the outcome of its board meeting on Thursday. Its press service has not commented on the issue.

Rosaviatsiya, Russia’s aviation watchdog, has said that VIM Airlines owes six banks some 7 billion roubles.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, the state body which probes major crimes, said in a statement on Thursday that VIM Airlines’ director general and chief accountant had been detained on suspicion of fraud.

The committee added that the airline’s owners had left the country.

A VIM Airlines spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova and Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Adrian Croft

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