Russia’s Nordwind to reduce its reliance on scheduled flights

Nordwind The hybrid airline is working on a new development strategy (Nordwind)

In pursuing a new business model, Russia’s hybrid carrier Nordwind Airlines is increasing its focus on charter flights whilst, at the same time, launching its first ever discounted ticket sales promotion.

Nordwind, one of two airline subsidiaries of the Russia-based, Turkey-backed leisure tourism operator Pegas Touristik Group (together with Pegas Fly), has launched the first reduced-price ticket sale in its 11-year history. All current winter season scheduled flight tickets are currently on offer at heavily discounted rates.

“For the first time, 100,000 tickets covering all our scheduled flights to Russia and CIS are on offer – with a starting price of one rouble (excluding taxes and charges),” says an airline statement.

“The special fares can be booked not only on direct flights to/from Moscow, but also on connecting flights from Russian cities via Moscow. This way passengers can travel at affordable prices from their home towns to St Petersburg, Sochi and Simferopol, for example, or any of our 55 destinations, connecting comfortably through Sheremetyevo Airport,” it adds.

Nordwind has operated scheduled flights since 2016, having previously focused only on the leisure charter market segment from its start in 2008. The decision to add regular flights to its roster came during tough economic and political times, in response to the 2014-2015 devaluation of the Russian currency and the ban on charter travel between Russia and Turkey from autumn 2015 to summer 2016 following the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by the Turkish Air Force. There was also the closure of flights to Egypt from November 2015 and, further still, after the crash of a Russian Kogalymavia Airbus A321 on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

According to Russian Aviation Insider’s information, in the first eight months of 2018, charter flights accounted for 40 per cent of all of the airline’s operations but, in the same period of this year, that share had risen to almost 50 per cent. The average passenger journey length in the eight-month 2019 period has increased by 25 per cent, reaching 3,200 km. The overall passenger load factor rose by two p.p. to 91 per cent.

Those figures also indicate that the airline has started to grow its charter flights business. In this year’s first eight months, the Moscow-based carrier transported some 6.7 million passengers, 8.9 per cent more year-on-year. Nevertheless, Nordwind’s current development strategy remains unclear.

In total, the airline operates a fleet of 32 aircraft, consisting of two Airbus A330-200s, nine Boeing 777-200/300s, 12 B-737-800s and nine A321s. During the last five years its fleet has grown by 18 per cent – in the autumn of 2014, the airline operated a fleet of 27 aircraft made up of one A320, eight A321s, four B-737s, four B-757s, seven B-767s and three B-777s.

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