MOSCOW, August 2 (RAPSI) – The Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling requiring Duty free operator Aerofirst St. Petersburg City Court to clear more than 1 billion rubles ($15 million) arrears in payment to Bank VTB, the records of the Court read on Tuesday.

On May 5, the Moscow Commercial Court complied with the demands put forward by the plaintiff in full. Bank VTB petitioned to recover the arrears relating to a credit agreement made in October of 2014. According to a bank representative, Aerofirst ceased to satisfy its obligations under the agreement in November of 2015 as concerned both the principal and interests, what made the bank to lodge its claim.

The court dismissed the defendant’s counter-claim appealing against the provisions of the agreement concerning the payment of commission fees. The company had appealed this ruling of the lower court, but its complaint was dismissed this Tuesday.

This January, Bank VTB lodged claims demanding company Arial and its 100% subsidiary Aerofirst to repay the debt estimated to be at about $40 million.

As it has been reported earlier, Aerofirst operates duty free shops under “Moscow Duty Free” brand since its first shop was established in Sheremetyevo in 1988, what makes it the oldest duty free operator in Russia. The company web site shows that it has ten shops in Sheremetyevo F terminal and 13 shops in Domodedovo airport.

Arial operates the Runway Duty Free network in Russia’s airports. The statistics for 2013 show that the company owns more than 20 shops in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Novosibirsk airport Tolmachevo. Arial purchased 66.66% of shares in Aerofirst from Aeroflot for 1.23 billion rubles ($19 million) in 2012. Later Arial has bought the remaining shares from Irish duty free operator Aer Rianta.

In early February it was reported that Sberbank intended to initiate proceedings to declare Aerofirst bankrupt.