From gamespot forums:
"The main character is NOT Nikko Bellic, and there ARE aircraft in the game!
Nikko Bellic is being used as a Mcguffin device to keep the real Main Character out of the spotlight, The real main character is Roman Petronov, Nikkos cousin who invites him to live in Liberty after Nikko has a HUGE falling out with a paramilitary/Mafioso hybrid wing back in ESTONIA.
Back to 2007, Roman invites Nikko to the US with lies of his fancy living, just because he needed Nikkos help in dealing with shady characters trying to move into his little slice of heaven, which is a Taxi-Firm Roman works at on a co-operator term.
You WILL play the prologue missions as Nikko, to give you a hint of the new controllers, sadly, I dont know the schemes yet, but as soon as I do, you do..."