Pulkovo attracts second carriers on existing routes

Pulkovo attracts second carriers on existing routes St. Petersburg airport says “dubbing” flights – such as Ural Airlines’ new flight to Frankfurt parallel to existing service by Luftnhansa is the new trend (Pulkovo)

Pulkovo has registered a new pattern emerging in its schedule for the coming summer season. Whereas last year airlines introduced an array of new routes (or those, which had been suspended during the downturn) riding the wave of post-crisis recovery, this year this process has slowed down, giving way to a new trend. This year carriers tend to open flights on the routes, already served by other airlines, notes Evgeniy Ilyin, commercial director of the airport’s managing company Northern Capital Gateway (NCG).

Among the examples are Rossiya Airlines’ new flight to London (Gatwick) dubbing the existing British Airways’ service to Heathrow. Ural Airlines launches a flight to Frankfurt-am-Main, parallel with Lufthansa’s service to the same destination. There’s a number of new domestic and international routes launched by Pobeda Airlines this spring (Kaliningrad, Nizhnekamsk, Ulyanovsk, Tbilisi) and S7 Airlines (Alicante, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Murmansk, Perm), which are not new to the airport’s route network. Notably, both Pobeda and S7 Airlines are launching a flight to Pisa at the same time.

Ilyin comments, that appearance of a second carrier on many routes will drive up competition, which in turn may lead to lower fares.

In terms of new routes, there are nine new destinations added to Pulkovo’s route network, most of them, in Europe – Pisa, Cologne, Dresden, Malta and Girona. A regular service to Alanya will be operated by Turkish carrier OnurAir. Pulkovo doesn’t expect service to popular Egyptian leisure destinations to resume before the autumn.

Development of the long-haul network, however, is not living up to the airport’s expectations, Ilyin said. For instance, a direct flight to New York, which once used to be in Pulkovo’s network, still remains on the wish-list. Also, after the collapse of Transaero Russian Far East remains critically underserved.

To stimulate development of long-haul routes St. Petersburg’s airport has introduced another incentive. Along with the existing programs encouraging airlines to open new routes, this new one offers bonuses to operators of widebody aircraft.

This January Pulkovo handled 1.079 million passengers, up 9.8% on the same month last year, in line with its forecast of an average 10% expected traffic growth this year. In 2017 the airport reported 16.1 million passengers, which beats its previous all-time-high set in 2014. Last year Pulkovo approached the limits of capacity of its new passenger terminal and is now mulling plans for further expansion.

By Elizaveta Kazachkova

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