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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

Chairwoman of Siberia Airlines killed in plane crash

Natalia Fileva, also co-owner of Russia's second-largest airline and one of country's richest women, dies after private jet comes down in Germany

S7 co-owner Natalia Fileva has died in a small plane crash in Germany. AP
S7 co-owner Natalia Fileva has died in a small plane crash in Germany. AP

Natalia Fileva, chairwoman and co-owner of Russia's second-largest airline S7, also known as Siberian Airlines, died when a private jet she was in crashed near Frankfurt on Sunday, the company said.

Ms Fileva, 55, was the major shareholder in S7, a member of global Oneworld airlines alliance, and one of the richest women in Russia, whose wealth was estimated by Forbes at $600 million, Reuters said.

The Epic-Lt, a single-engined jet designed for private flights, crashed while landing at Egelsbach airport, said S7.

A police spokesman in the central German state of Hesse said a six-seater aircraft with two passengers and a pilot on board was en route from France when it came down near Egelsbach and caught fire.

Rescue crews at the site of the private jet crash in Erzhausen near Darmstadt, Germany. AP
Rescue crews at the site of the private jet crash in Erzhausen near Darmstadt, Germany. AP

The private jet was flying from Cannes in France and disappeared from radars at 13.22 GMT, according to data from a flight tracker Flighradar24.

There was no immediate information on the other two people in the plane, although German media reported that three people were killed when the aircraft crashed into an asparagus field and caught fire, according to Bloomberg.

About eight minutes before impact, the pilot signed off with German air traffic control and began a visual final approach, which is a normal procedure, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper quoted an aviation spokesman as saying.

The Epic LT was a private business jet run by S7. It was involved in an accident in 2015. While Ms Filev was piloting the plane with an instructor on board, the landing gear didn’t deploy properly, and the plane had to land on its belly, according to Forbes Russia.

Russian and international authorities would investigate the crash and there was no information yet on what caused it, according to the airline, which is the main competitor of Russia's biggest carrier Aeroflot.

"The S7 Group holding team expresses deepest condolences to the family and significant others," the company said.

S7 fleet consists of 96 aircraft that fly to 181 cities and towns in 26 countries, according to the company's website.

Ms Fileva ran S7 with her husband Vladislav Filev. The airline rebranded from Siberia Airlines and painted its planes green after a 2004 plane crash caused by a terror attack. The group, which also includes Globus Airlines, carried about 16 million passengers last year, according to Russia’s civil-aviation agency.

Her ambitions extended beyond air travel. In 2016, S7 agreed to acquire the Sea Launch platform to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX in launching satellites. The deal was closed last year, and S7 hired a chief designer to develop a cargo spacecraft.

Updated: April 1, 2019 02:15 PM

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