Passenger traffic between Russia and the CIS grew by 16 per cent in September

Russian airlines Rossiya Airlines wins back its second largest Russian airline status, whilst freighter start-up Sky Gates surges to fourth in the cargo segment in the first nine months of 2018 (Leonid Faerberg / Transport-photo)

After a slow first half of the year, passenger numbers between Russia and the CIS countries picked up and enjoyed a year-high increase of 15.9 per cent year-on-year in September, compared to 15.4 per cent in August, eight per cent in July and less than one per cent in June, an updated report from Rosaviatsiya, Russia’s civil aviation authority, records. The segment showed the highest growth rate last month, when Russian airlines alone transported 690,800 passengers between Russia and destinations in the CIS.

In the international segment as a whole, including the CIS traffic, Russian airlines served 5.081 million passengers, up 11.9 per cent on the same month of last year. Of this number, 4.39 million travelled beyond the CIS (up 11.3 per cent year-on-year). At the same time, domestic traffic figures showed the slowest growth, at 10.7 per cent over September 2017, but still reached 6.806 million passengers.

September’s traffic totals achieved by Russian airlines reached 11.887 million passengers, with the 11.2 per cent year-on-year growth slightly above the average for the year so far. The peak growth rate thus far this year is April’s 14.2 per cent.

During the first nine months of 2018, Russian airlines collectively carried 89.185 million passengers, achieving an average growth rate of 10.1 per cent. The break down by segments was as follows: 36.482 million passengers on international routes (up 10.6 per cent), of which 5.267 million travelled within the CIS (up 3.5 per cent), with the remaining 52.702 million passengers travelling domestically (up 9.9 per cent).

The list of Russia’s top five airlines remains the same, but Aeroflot subsidiary Rossiya Airlines has won back its status as the country’s second largest airline having ceded it at the beginning of the year to the privately-owned S7 Airlines which nevertheless continues to enjoy double-digit growth. Seat load factors for both airlines is roughly the same – Rossiya’s climbed by 2.7 percentage points to 87.8 per cent, and S7 added 1 p.p. to 87.3 per cent.

The top five Russian airlines’ passenger traffic, by millions, Jan-Sept. 2018:

1 Aeroflot 26.77 (up eight per cent year-on-year)

2 Rossiya Airlines 9.045 (up 0.3 per cent)

3 Sibir (S7 Airlines) 8.95 (up 17.8 per cent)

4 Ural Airlines 6.99 (up 14.3 per cent)

5 Utair 5.79 (up 5.5 per cent)

FREIGHT SEGMENT

Russia’s freight segment showed an improvement on September 2017, increasing by 1.6 per cent and reaching a total of 105,400 tonnes. The growth is attributed mainly to domestic cargo movements, which increased by 9.7 per cent to 26,349 tonnes. By contrast, international freight suffered a 1.8 per cent decline to 79,134 tonnes, following several months of steady growth. In the first nine months, freight traffic reached 856,949 tonnes, up 1.2 per cent year-on-year. The bulk of this was carried internationally – 647,327 tonnes, at 0.6 per cent growth. The domestic segment grew faster at three per cent on average in the period.

Young freight carrier Sky Gates Airlines entered the country’s top five list for the first time since its autumn 2016 launch. The airline operates two Boeing 747-400Fs but, until recently, had not submitted its operational results data to the regulators, so its overall performance is difficult to analyse.

S7 Airlines, which for several months held third place in the cargo ranking, experienced a 2.3 per cent decline compared to the first three quarters of last year (24,702 tonnes) and slipped to fifth behind Sky Gates Airlines and fast-growing low-cost carrier Pobeda Airlines, which accounted for 28,235 tonnes, 136 times greater than in the same period last year. AirBridgeCargo remains the airfreight industry leader, followed by Aeroflot.

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