VIM Airlines, also known as VIM-Avia, is an airline located in Moscow, with its hub at the Domodedovo airport. The airline operates passenger and cargo scheduled and charter flights on domestic and international routes, also offering wet lease services.
In October 2002, VIM Airlines was founded by, Viktor Ivanovich Merkulov, whose initials form the abbreviation VIM. The airline began operations in December with a fleet of four Il-62M and four An-12, first focusing on cargo operations.
In 2003, VIM Airlines obtained the operator certificate to perform freight and passenger air carriage and began shifting from cargo flights to passenger flights, with charters flights to Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.
In 2004, VIM Airlines started implementing a large-scale program for complete replacement and expansion of its fleet. Twelve medium-range Boeing 757-200 aircraft were purchased from Condor, Thomas Cook’s holiday airline. On July 16, VIM Airlines performed its first flight with Boeing 757-200 aircraft. After the renewal of the fleet, VIM Airlines managed to occupy a leading position on all popular charter routes (Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey), considerably surpassing other air companies operating Il-86 aircraft. In addition, VIM Airlines started flying on popular travel routes to Western Europe, mainly to Spain and Italy, where charter flights on Il-86 aircraft could not be performed due to existing noise limitations.
At the end of 2004, VIM Airlines acquired Chitaavia and Aerobratsk, followed by Russian Sky Airlines in 2005.
In 2006, VIM Airlines became the largest operator of Boeing 757-200 aircraft in Eastern Europe when it added to its fleet 4 more aircraft of this type. In May, for the purpose of providing regional, domestic and international air carriage in the Republic of Bashkortostan, VIM Airlines and the government of Bashkortostan founded Bashkortostan Airlines, a subsidiary of VIM Airlines.
In 2009, VIM Airlines continued to keep its position of one of the leaders of the charter segment of the market but, by adding Rimini and Tenerife to the regular flight network, also started a program of shifting from continuous charter flights to regular flights. Also, new destinations for regular international flights, such as Ganja, Lankaran, Andijan, Osh, were added to the network. The airlines retired the outdated aircraft produced in Russia and signed a memorandum of purchase of Boeing 747 aircraft.
In 2010, the passenger turnover was demonstrating the airline’s sustained growth. The airline was operating seasonal charter flights from Moscow and regional Russian centers to cities in Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria) and resorts in Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, and Tunisia. The regular flights network included 17 cities, among which Barcelona, Alicante, Tenerife, Malaga, Naples, Thessaloniki, Catania, Palermo, Rimini, Namangan, Qarshi, Sochi, and Chita.
In 2011, VIM Airlines became an IOSA-registered airline – an act of recognition of safety of services provided by the airline on the market of domestic and international air carriage. Also, VIM Airlines introduced new classes of servicing – Business Class and Improved Economy Class.
In 2014, after a decade of operating a single-type fleet of Boeing 757-200 aircraft, a new type of aircraft was added to the fleet. By June, VIM Airlines was operating four Airbus A319 aircraft, which allowed the airline to increase the number of flights and offer new services to its passengers.
In 2015, in line with the management’s strategy to shift the airline’s focus towards regular route service, the share of regular flights was about 90%.
For 2016, VIM Airlines is considering expanding its fleet with wide-body aircraft as the carrier has signed several letters of intent, including for Boeing 767 and 777. The carrier’s interest in the long-haul aircraft is included in its plans to expand the route network.
No fatal accidents involving VIM Airlines were registered so far.