There's no money in the bank and I have something like $78,000,000 in outstanding loans but I am still making money most weeks so as the only Soviet airline to start on day one and get to this point without bankruptcy I will keep this thing running until they pry it from my cold dead hands even if it means not testing the Tu-154M. I owe it to my fallen comrades of Red Star as one of only two members to ever maintain a positive company value.
As far as the details, I believe I proved the Tu-134 series to be effective and competitive. Taking advantage of the smaller plane and frequency advantages I was able to force several huge airlines out of Sheremetyevo to give up on their lucrative routes to my secondary base at Leningrad and briefly dominated before the F-27s arrived. (last I checked, I still have the best frequency and highest market share albeit with poor returns) I also made short work of half a dozen challengers to my HQ at Domodedovo. It got to a point that most of them focused on routes my 134s couldn't reach until I began flying my owned 154B-2s against their 727s and A300s with devastating effect.
It's fitting that I should be brought so low by similar tactics. I understand the frequency bonus but the smaller plane thing will never make sense to me. I've never met anyone who prefers smaller planes, especially if we are talking a tiny turboprop vs a massive jumbo jet but I'm sure that has been argued a thousand times over. I just want to make it clear that if I do go down it will be due to aggressive competition, not my choice of aircraft. If the Tu-134 wasn't profitable, I would never have been able to direct purchase my Tu-154B-2s for a good sixty million dollars over the last two years. I'm told the Tu-134A is the smallest aircraft in the game that is able to have business class, that alone is a huge advantage that may outweigh the higher operating costs.
In addition to my 134s, I also tested the Tu-154B series. I operated two leased 154Bs and four owned 154B-2s. The standard Bs proved to be very lucrative despite the expense of their leases once LF got over 70%, covering costs for each month in the first week. I had the B-2s on long-haul domestic routes, often with a tech stop to reach high demand airports in the far east. These also proved viable despite the massive fuel expense of flying so far once the route image maxed out; in the early days they always lost money until LF built up, again to around 70% for healthy profits.
I will also admit that one other factor in my current troubles are some poor decisions on my part. Most of my leased 134s were ordered new in the early years for $90k or less a month. However, when the lines started to close during a moment of low cash flow I panicked a little and ordered as many 134As as I could for my 2nd base. These came at a much higher leasing cost and while somewhat viable did not have the best routes. They will always have too many empty seats. I also may have been over-eager to get into the long-haul market with 154s. I had a concern that the 154M might be a long way off and a lot of money in the bank so I launched the B-2 hoping direct purchases would cover start-up and maintenance costs. My 2nd leased 154B was actually ordered by mistake and had to serve less than perfect routes which also hurt my bottom line. Once I had six 154s flying, the commonality costs did become acceptable and most of the planes were doing well but if I had been more patient I could be sitting on a gigantic nest egg while looking forward to serving the same long-haul routes without tech stops using the 154M. I fear that model may never be tested thoroughly this round thanks to the hole I dug myself.