Russian airlines jointly transported almost 86.3 million passengers in the first eight months of 2019, exceeding the same period last year by 11.7 per cent, according to figures released by Rosaviatsiya, the country’s aviation authority. In the period, passenger traffic reached 216.1 billion RPKs, a 13.6 per cent year-on-year improvement.
Of the top five airlines, Pobeda, Russia’s only low-cost carrier (LCC) and a member of the Aeroflot Group, continued its impressive growth, transporting some 6.6 million passengers and recording a 46.7 per cent year-on-year growth. Aeroflot, the country’s largest airline, carried some 25.2 million passengers, 7.3 per cent up and Rossiya Airlines served 8.1 million passengers, a 4.7 per cent increase year-on-year. Russian Far East-based carrier Aurora Airlines, the smallest member of the group, grew by only 2.8 per cent after serving 1.1 million passengers. Collectively, Aeroflot Group’s carriers transported 41.0 million passengers, up by 11.4 per cent year-on-year.
The privately run S7 Airlines, which comprises Sibir and Globus, remained Russia’s second biggest airline grouping. Sibir, itself the country’s second largest carrier, transported almost nine million people, up 15.6 per cent over last year’s period, while the smaller Globus grew by 6.9 per cent, serving another three million passengers.
Pegas Fly, which is one of two airline subsidiaries of the Russia-based, Turkey-backed leisure operator Pegas Touristik Group, carried almost 1.6 million people in the eight-month period, a 21.1 per cent improvement. Nordwind, the other member of the Turkish group operating both scheduled and charter flights, grew by only 8.9 per cent, transporting some 6.7 million passengers.
At the same time, Russia’s privately owned Nordavia-Regional Airlines, which now operates under the Smartavia brand name, also recorded a very solid improvement. The airline carried around 1.3 million passengers in the January-August period, up by 59.5 per cent over the previous year period. The airline’s commercial partner Red Wings transported more than two million people, exceeding the same period of last year by 22.7 per cent.
In the period, Azimuth Airlines was the fastest growing carrier in the top 20, with its passenger traffic up by 105.7 per cent with almost 800,000 customers. The regional airline that operates a fleet consisting exclusively of Russian-built Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft, is now considering bigger aircraft types and is considering adding the Airbus A220-300 (formerly the Bombardier CSeries) to its fleet. Another SSJ100 operator, the Irkutsk-based IrAero, transported 614,000 passengers, up 47.5 per cent year-on-year. Utilisation of three Boeing 777 wide-bodies contributed significantly to the growth.
Despite these upward swings, most of Russia’s regional carriers failed to grow their passenger traffic in the period, with decreases in the number of passengers carried. For example, The Izhevsk-based Izhavia carried only 182,816 passengers from January to August, decreasing its passenger traffic numbers by 38,2 per cent year-on-year; and Yakutia Airlines carried 486,544 passengers, which is 17.4 per cent lower than the same period last year. Another regional air carrier, NordStar Airlines, transported 855,642 people, suffering a negative 13.9 per cent year-on-year result.
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