Russia’s Smartavia expands at St Petersburg as it continues fleet renewal

Smartavia Smartavia is continuing to grow its Boeing 737NG fleet as it retires its vintage B737CLs (Smartavia)

Private Russian airline Smartavia, former Aeroflot off-shoot Nordavia Airlines, is expanding its flight schedule from St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport as it proceeds with its planned fleet renewal programme.

In the current IATA winter schedule, Smartavia has added four new routes from Russia’s second biggest city, including scheduled services to Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, and the other three are domestic services to Izhevsk, Rostov-on-Don and Ufa, thereby bringing the total number of the carrier’s domestic destinations from Pulkovo to 10. Apart from Baku, the other international offering is Antalya in Turkey.

Victor Anoshkin, Smartavia’s director for corporate communications, explained to Russian Aviation Insider that the airline operates the majority of domestic flights from Pulkovo utilising Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft under a code-share agreement with its airline partner Moscow-based state-run Red Wings.

Arkhangelsk-based Smartavia carried 670,000 passengers through the St Petersburg airport in the first nine months of this year, a 25.6 per cent improvement year-on-year. This impressive performance is nonetheless down on the airline’s average general growth rate of 65 per cent so far this year, the second best among the country’s top-20 carriers. This performance improvement comes as a result of a combination of a re-invigorated branding and strategy, but mostly through the streamlining brought about by its fleet renewal programme which targets the replacement within the 2019-2020 period of most of its vintage Boeing 737-500s with newer, bigger and more efficient 737NGs.

Apart from its St Petersburg business, Smartavia has courageously entered the crowded regional travel market from Moscow, having launched a route between the Russian capital and Novosibirsk earlier this year. In this winter season, Smartavia’s total network includes 40 domestic routes, and flights to Turkey’s Istanbul and Antalya as well as to Sharjah (UAE), Yerevan (Armenia) and Baku (Azerbaijan).

The airline currently operates 15 Boeing 737s – six -500s, three -700s and six -800s. “The fleet renewal programme will continue into 2020. We plan to bring five Boeing 737-800s into service whilst phasing out four Boeing 737-500s this and next year,” Anoshkin revealed.

Ranked 13th in the air passenger league table of Russian airlines, Smartavia transported 1.54 million passengers, up 65 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2019.

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