Russia airline boss sacked after plane traces phallus in the sky

Russia’s biggest low-cost airline has sacked one of its deputy bosses after a passenger plane was caught taking a phallic-shaped detour during a commercial flight, reportedly in support for a footballer embroiled in a sex tape scandal.

On 11 November, one of budget airline Pobeda’s planes was seen diverting from its Moscow-Yekaterinburg flight path and making a series of irregular manoeuvres in the sky with 102 passengers onboard.

Russia’s Federal Air Transportation Agency (Rosaviatsia) said the flight could have posed a safety hazard. The agency’s commission blamed the company’s management for the incident, according to media outlet RBC. Pobeda is a subsidiary of Russia’s airline giant, Aeroflot.

The airline said the route may have been taken by the pilots as a show of support for Russian football captain Artyom Dzyuba, who had been dropped by the national team a few days earlier after a private video showing a man similar to him was leaked online.

“We do not know what exactly could have been imagined in the flight path of our aircraft, but it is possible that the captains of Pobeda expressed their support to the captain of the [Russian football] national team Artyom Dziuba and showed their attitude to his persecution,” RBC reported a spokesperson for the airline as saying.

As well as sacking one of Pobeda’s deputies, the airline’s board reprimanded General Director Andrey Kalmykov at a meeting, Reuters and Russian media reported.

Rosaviatsia’s commission learned that Pobeda unsuccessfully attempted to have a similar flight path approved for a Moscow-St. Petersburg flight on 10 November, the Moscow Times reported. Additionally, the Aeroflot subsidiary allegedly went on to tell police that the plane, which reportedly has no fuel drainage system, had to take that path to drain fuel.

The national aviation agency last month had suggested Mr Kalmykov be sacked over the incident, according to a leaked document. Both Pobeda and Rosaviatsia declined to comment.

Russia’s national football team said it would not be calling up its captain, Mr Dzyuba, for international matches in November to shield him from negative publicity after the video was leaked.

It is not clear how the video was leaked.


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