In May, Russia’s air travel market again experienced a reversal of its domestic versus international traffic growth rate trend.
For the previous five months, international traffic had grown faster than domestic, but May enjoyed an 8.6 per cent growth versus 8.8 per cent, year on year, according to a final monthly report issued by Rosaviatsiya.
Notably, it was the CIS segment that showed a 2.2 per cent decrease, whereas the number of travellers to destinations beyond the post-Soviet territory actually grew 10.7 per cent over May 2017.
Overall, domestic traffic continues to exceed international, with 5.5 million internal passengers against four million, which aggregates to 9.4 million passengers, itself an average 8.7 per cent growth on the same month last year.
For the five-month period, Russian airlines collectively carried 39.9 million passengers, 11.5 per cent up on the same period in 2017. Of this number, international passenger traffic accounted for 15.8 million passengers (up 12.9 per cent year-on-year), whilst the remaining 24.1 million passengers travelled within Russia (up 10.6 per cent). Here again, the CIS segment shrank by 2.2 per cent, whereas traffic outside the region grew by 16.6 per cent.
The traffic growth is showing signs of slowing down compared to the January-March and January-April periods, when it was 12.4 per cent up, and January alone, when it reached 14.2 per cent.
Seat load factor in the five-month period increased 0.8 percentage points to 80.4 per cent.
Among the top-five Russian airlines, St Petersburg-headquartered Rossiya (part of the Aeroflot Group) is the only one that continues to demonstrate a downwards tendency. In the first five months of this year it carried 3.5 million passengers, which was down 5.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. At the same time, its seat load factor improved 4.5 p.p. Sister company Aeroflot traditionally remains the market leader with 13 million passengers, up 5.7 per cent year on year. However, its share of the market shrank 2.5 p p. to 66.3 per cent.
The remaining three in the top-five echelon showed growth rates above market average. Fourth-ranked Ural Airlines grew fastest, carrying three million passengers, up 18.7 per cent year-on-year; S7 Airlines, the second largest after Aeroflot, served four million passengers, up 16.9 per cent; UTair (number five) enjoyed a 10.7 per cent year-on-year boost and demonstrated a 7.2 p.p. improvement in seat load factors to 77.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, the freighter market on the whole has remained level in the period. During the first five months of this year, Russian cargo airlines carried 439,000 tonnes. But cargo shipments between Russia and the CIS countries shrank by 21.6 per cent in the period, whereas with other countries the air cargo business climbed by 0.3 per cent. Domestic traffic continues its shallow growth pattern – 109,000 tonnes of traffic, up 1.7 per cent.
In May, domestic cargo carriage (24,200 tonnes) increased faster than international (71,000) – growing by 2.5 per cent against 1.8 per cent in May 2017.
Amongst all the largest freight-carrying airlines, only scheduled carrier AirBridgeCargo (part of the Volga-Dnepr Group) grew 2.6 per cent to 230,000 tonnes. Other airlines saw their cargo businesss decrease: Aeroflot down by 2.2 per cent (84,000 tonnes), Rossiya down 2.1 per cent (11,000) and S7 Airlines, down by 4.3 per cent (12,900 tonnes).
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