The Rostov, Russia-based Azimuth Airlines – the world’s only operator of a fleet made up entirely of Russian-built Superjet 100s – served 116,700 passengers in January 2020, improving its year-on-year operational performance by an impressive 52.1 per cent.
In doing so, the airline, which was launched just 2.5 years ago and is controlled by Vladimir Skoch and Vitaly Vantsev who are also major shareholders of Moscow’s Vnukovo airport (with a minor interest held by the Rostov regional administration), has skipped three places in the league ranking of Russian airlines, moving straight to 12th and is ready to challenge for a top-10 elite position. Such progress has prompted the carrier to seriously consider taking aircraft in the 100-to-150 seats category, with a decision likely to be made as soon as this summer.
The upwards trend has been powered by the increasing efficiency of the airline’s SSJ100 fleet utilisation.
In the entire 12 months of 2019, Azimuth carried 1.25 million passengers, up 86.3 per cent year-on-year, and is targeting at least 1.5 million this year. However, that optimistic projection has not factored-in a plunge in demand for air travel or the quarantine measures required for mitigating the spread of Coronavirus.
Last year Azimuth grew its fleet to 11 Superjet 100s, but has not signalled any intentions for a further fleet expansion this year. The airline is planning to continue taking in more SSJ100s from next year on, bringing its fleet to 16 of the Russian regional jets by 2022. Along with that, the carrier is considering the possibility of larger aircraft with higher seating capacities and is hopeful of making the final type decision and possibly settling on a delivery schedule this summer. It is targeting increased flight ranges and greater seating capacities of between 100 and 150 seats, a situation that makes the Embraer 190/195 E1/E2 and the Airbus A220 eligible options.
In January this year Azimuth Airlines saw its seat load factor reach a reasonable 84.1 per cent, which is 5.3 p.p. better than the industry average. This improvement may increase the airline’s attraction to employing larger aircraft.
The airline is expanding geographically too. In the coming summer season it is launching direct services from Rostov to Munich, Baku and Yekaterinburg, and from Mineralnye Vody to Perm. It has recently opened a new base at Krasnodar, and is also considering a new base at Mineralnye Vody and potentially Stavropol.
By Evgeniya Kolyada
Russian Aviation Insider
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