The VIA TU
-154s were around, and still are, operating from and to Bulgaria, but they're not UK based or operating to countries other than Bulgaria.
The 1995 fiasco was a different aircraft.
A Yak-42 as I remember, but again based at Manchester. A broker had sold seats to various holiday companies, who though they were buying capacity on a GB
leisure B737-200 that had been used the previous summer. The broker failed to secure the contract for said aircraft, and a Ukrainian Yak-42 was the only aircraft they could find to operate the contract. In an effort to make the aircraft look "normal" to passengers, the airline concerned repainted the aircraft with "Sunjet" titles. Doubt if it fooled the passengers.
There followed outcry from other UK airlines, widespread negative press coverage, upset, frightened passengers and furious tour operators.
Even though I thought there's no way there would be - there's even a photo of it in the database with Sunjet titles!!!
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Photo © Frank Schaefer
Anyone thinking about operating Russian aircraft in the UK passenger market would be unwise to try. No tour operator would knowingly buy capacity on such an aircraft and the CAA under pressure from UK airlines wouldn't allow it anyway. I beleive they only did in the above case because the broker concerned convinced them there was no other aircraft available, so it was either that or the passengers went nowhere.
Does the TU
-154 even meet Stage III noise regulations???