In 2001 the Ufa Holding Corporation (USD), a Russian holding company, became one of the largest holder of UFA, also known as the Ural Airlines Company. Its financial position enabled it to acquire a controlling interest in Ufa Airlines, a powerful Russian airline company. In early 2004, however, the company decided to sell its stake in Ufa Airlines to raise further funds for its other projects. This sale included all of Ufa’s domestic flights and international flights operated by Ufa. On April 7, 2004, The Financial Times published an article quoting Maxim Truntov, a financial analyst at the Wall Street Journal, as saying that he thought that the sale of Ufa to Ufa Airlines was “a very good move by Ufa.”
On April 8, 2004, the Centralfax reported that Ufa had sold its remaining fifty percent interest in Ufa Airlines to a group of businessmen from Russia and China. The buyer is expected to raise around $500 million. However, this sale was accompanied by a statement from the Russian government stating that the sale of Ufa was an “asset liquidation.” According to this explanation, the sale of Ufa to free agent Ufa Bulgaria was forbidden because it was a “foreign-owned” company. The reason for this action is that some countries view companies that are controlled by foreigners as serious businesses. Therefore, if a foreign company is selling off its shares to a free agent, it could be viewed as conducting business without serious consideration for the interests of Bulgaria and its nationals.
On May 7, 2004, The Financial Times reported that the Ministry of Transport of the republic of bashkortostan (the capital city of Ufa) had written to all airlines flying to Belaya Zagreb (the capital city of Ufa) stating that they would not allow any of their flights to land in Belaya. The reason given was that the airport in Belaya is being managed by a “Chinese firm” that is not subject to any international regulations or rules. Although no reason has been given by the ministry to these airlines, passengers have already started to worry as the possibility of losing contact with their loved ones due to loss of contact with a flying Ufa Airlines. This has caused many flight cancellations and delayed journeys. There have also been reports of disappearances of luggage from airplanes.
Some airlines have already modified their services accordingly. For example, Air Asia has decided to add a one-way bus service for all flights departing from Ufa. Also, Malaysia airlines have decided to start servicing the railway station in Ufa. Both the governments have also made public statements saying that the reasons behind the actions are related to maintaining the integrity of the airport. No further information is available at this time.
The director of the airport, Mr. Akinwarani Mustafa confirmed that authorities are working on the problem. He said that authorities had discussed the issue with the airline company and the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia. However, he could not give a timetable for when the services will start again. When the services are back to normal, all passengers can once again enjoy the facilities offered by the airport.
The passengers of UFA airlines should keep in mind that normal business hours usually resume on Monday. The next scheduled airline service day is Tuesday. The situation at the airport has however relieved the minds of passengers since the likelihood of their losing their luggage and other valuables on the airline has almost eliminated. However, all passengers are advised to take care when picking up their bags.