INSIGHT: Rossiya Airlines changes livery and strategy

Rossiya Airlines This Airbus A320 performed its last flight in Rossiya's old livery in early February (Alexander Listopad)

Registered in St Petersburg, Rossiya Airlines which, less one share, is 75 per cent-owned by Aeroflot and, plus one share, 25 per cent-owned by the St Petersburg municipality, has cast off the last remnants of its old style.

On February 9, the Airbus A320 (pictured), with tail number VQ-BDR, painted in Rossiya Airlines’ old livery departed to Shannon, Ireland for re-painting. A week earlier the aircraft made its final flight, from Krasnoyarsk to St Petersburg, under the old Rossiya colour scheme.

The new Rossiya Airlines is the result of the 2016 consolidation of Aeroflot Group’s three regional airlines: Rossiya, Donavia and Orenair. Currently, the fleet of Rossiya, which became Russia’s second largest carrier in 2017, consists of 59 aircraft, all painted in the airline’s new livery. These are 25 A319s, four А320s, 16 Boeing 737-800s, five Boeing 777-300s and nine Boeing 747-400s, each of them named after Russian cities. One Airbus A319, with tail number VQ-BAS, carries the special livery of local football club Zenit Saint Petersburg, winners of the 2008 UEFA Super Cup.

Of this fleet line up, two thirds were previously operated collectively by Aeroflot, Vladivostok Avia, Orenburg Airlines, Donavia and Transaero, thereby creating a mixed bag of aircraft derived from other Russian carriers.

Rossiya carried 11.2 million passengers last year, up 37.7 per cent on 2016, which is when it commenced flights as the newly-merged carrier.

Russian Aviation Insider’s request for an interview with Dmitriy Saprykin, Rossiya’s general director, was unsurprisingly denied, as the airline’s top executive rarely speaks to the media. So, to unearth information regarding the development of one of Russia’s largest carriers, we had to analyse publically available information and data.

One initial impression is the latent disappointment of Pulkovo, Rossiya’s home airport, with the airline’s slow development rate there. Apparently, Rossiya’s relationship with the administration of Russia’s second largest city is far from straightforward. Despite the airline’s significant presence as a company with a noticeable effect on the city’s economy, all vital strategic decisions regarding the operations of the St Petersburg-registered airline are formed at parent Aeroflot’s head-office in Moscow.

Although commercial management of the original Rossiya was initially handed over to the Aeroflot Group in 2014, by 2017 and 2018 Rossiya had promised and planned to increase its presence at the St Petersburg airport.

According to R Flight, Rossiya’s in-flight magazine, as of winter 2018, the airline’s route network offered more than 90 destinations, including some 20 leisure options, operated under its own FV flight code, both in Russia and internationally. The main customer for these flights is travel company Biblio Globus, formerly partnered with the now defunct Transaero.

Last year, Rossiya grew its passenger traffic through St Petersburg Pulkovo by 17 per cent, reaching a total of more than 5.5 million. At the same time, its traffic through Moscow’s Vnukovo airport exceeded five million passengers and growing.

Speculation circulating earlier this year that Rossiya is considering switching its Moscow airport base from Vnukovo to Sheremetyevo, home of its parent company Aeroflot, remains unconfirmed, with both airports fighting to win over the lucrative client. It is believed that the main motivation behind the proposed switch are its synergistic single-hub benefits which may be derived from the combination of the route networks of both Aeroflot and Rossiya.

One of the ideas currently under discussion is the transformation of the St Petersburg-based airline into a dedicated feeder carrier for its parent company, focusing on routes such as from the Russian Far East. After the introduction of the government subsidy programme at the beginning of this year, Aeroflot announced the introduction of a flat-rates agreement with Rossiya on these routes.

In March of this year, Aeroflot’s general director Vitaly Saveliev told a federal TV channel that since the flagship carrier had joined the programme of “socially significant” (which possibly translates to “commercially unviable”) services to the Far East, the extent of the flat-rates scheme has increased by 75 per cent after the airline devoted additional capacities of some 900 seats to these routes.

Rossiya airline

A319 in Rossiya Airlines’ new livery (Anna Zvereva // Wikimedia)

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3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Russia’s airlines see 9.4 per cent traffic growth in June - Russian aviation news
  2. Rossiya Airlines to reduce its A319 fleet by 20 per cent - Russian aviation news
  3. Rossiya Airlines transfers some flights from Vnukovo to Sheremetyevo - Russian aviation news

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