Saransk is the capital of Republic of Mordovia in the Russian Federation. It’s a provincial town in the central part of Russia.
Mordovian airlines are the regional airline based in Saransk airport. The carrier possesses a few aircraft and performs flights from Saransk to Moscow all the year round and to Sochi in summertime.
What a fright was this flight! Just logically, everything’s clear: those planes sometimes are better than the modern ones, this flight is being performed daily and nothing happens, the pilots are not fools and are eager to be alive. But it’s just logically… And practically, at the view of the plane older than you, out-of-date in all aspects, the only thought is: “Damn it all, there’s a low-cost train!” But on the other hand for a long time I’ve been eager to fly by An-24, and it’s a chance.
In Domodedovo airport just after arrival:
Mordovian airlines fly from Saransk to Domodedovo daily, except weekends. The flight time is approximately 1 hour and a half. My ticket cost about 150 USD. In my opinion it’s too much for such an airline and such a plane.
Having arrived to the airport an hour before the takeoff I checked in immediately. Checking in was organized differently than in other airports – not by the luggage transporter but in a small booth wh ere the ticket is being checked and the boarding pass is given. Then you have to move with all your luggage to the preflight examination. After the examination the luggage should be stored in the corner of the waiting lounge to be picked up later by the special bus.
My trunk is picked up:
While waiting for the plane you can go out to the platform. It’s dark and lonely all around. The terminal and runway are rather far from each other. The airport from “that” side:
Later you have to go by bus for a long way to the plane through the snow field.
And here’s my dream, An-24 itself, in the full darkness. I’m making pictures, but someone of the personnel reproves me because it’s not allowed to take pictures here. Why, I wonder? Certainly it’s better not to discuss anything on this matter – it’s habitually prohibited to take pictures of everything in this country. But the answer I’ve got was bewildering – it’s a bad sign.
When we’ve got fresh papers onboard I became sick and giddy, because the first I’ve noticed on the front page was advertizing of tombstones and fencings. I’m not afraid of flights and fly very often, but at that time it was rough. I realized that such aircraft carry people and luggage hundreds of flights a day in Siberia, the Far East and abroad. People are got accustomed and have no choice. But I’m not used to.
Just after the takeoff one of the pilots came out of the cabin and took the seat in front of me in order to snooze. So, everything’s alright, the devices are in running order. I decided: it’s time to relax.
To my surprise the plane was about 70 per cent full. It’s great progress to be compared with my experience in Vologda. The public is the same – people travelling on business, those saving time, not money. There’s a business-class in the plane, too, though it’s not in the front section but in the rear one, between the luggage hold and the main cabin. There are the same seats in it but situated opposite each other with the tables between them. There were some deputies wearing mink overcoats in the business-class.
Later I’ve learned something peculiar about that very aircraft. It appeared to be the last An-24 ever produced. Nowadays this model is upgraded and being manufactured in China as Xian MA-60, which I used to fly in the Philippines. Now An-24 is used on the regular flights only in Russia, Kazakhstan and some African countries.
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