This alliance was originally known as AirBridge. In October 2004 Russian airlines KrasAir and Domodedovo Airlines set up a joint management company called AirBridge. KrasAir is owned by the city government of Krasnoyarsk (51%) and AirBridge management (49%) (Boris Abramovich - CEO and his brother, Alexander Abramovich - deputy CEO, no relation to Roman Abramovich). While retaining separate legal identities the airlines were planning to integrate their networks and services, as they are largely complementary. In April 2007 AirBridge had purchased Malév airline from Hungarian government. Boris Abramovich is also a CEO of AirUnion alliance.
KrasAir Tupolev Tu-154M in AiRUnion colors
The Abramovich brothers' aggressive expansion campaign led to the creation of AiRUnion alliance in 2005, the first airline alliance in Russia. It included KrasAir, Domodedovo Airlines, Omskavia, Samara Airlines and Sibaviatrans. All of the member airlines are virtually controlled by Krasair. On May 3, 2007 the five members of the AirUnion alliance were rolled into a similarly named holding company, OAO AirUnion, in which the Russian government holds no less than 45% of the shares.
AiRUnion was competing with S7 Airlines to become the second largest domestic carrier in Russia in 2007, after Aeroflot. AiRUnion carried 4.9 million passengers in 2006 compared to 8.75 million for Aeroflot.
AiRUnion had one premium level, Premium, based on a customer's tier status in a frequent flyer program. Each member and regional airline recognized AiRUnion Premium status, with only a few exceptions, mainly pertaining to airport lounge access. Status has no specific requirements; membership is based solely on the frequent flyer programs of individual member airlines.