There seems to be a daily flight to Baghdad at 0200: that isn't haphazard. The flight number is BGK 1225. The return gets in to SHJ at 1050 (no. BGK1226). There would also seem to be regular runs to Iraq by "Airline Transport", another suspect of ours.
So - if the contracts really were cut off just before Christmas - or in August depending on which spokesman you believe - who's paying them?
By the way, the Times story is here. Interestingly, a search for the man named as director of Aerocom brings up not a Russian celebrity but a story from a Moldovan paper that, as far as I can make out without speaking the language, deals with the mysterious death of one of their pilots in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, back in February. Oleg Kuznetsov, it seems, was treated as a
"persoane foarte influente"No wonder, as well as being one of the greats of Russian football he also finds time to carry out original biological research...