New economic realities pose new challenges to Russia’s strategically important air transport industry, requiring flexibility and search for efficient solutions. The industry is tasked with providing connections between the country’s regions, improving their accessibility, preserving its workforce and ensuring sustainability of the operations. Despite obvious challenges, Aeroflot Group is proceeding with its important project – developing regional hub operations at Krasnoyarsk airport (IATA code: KJA), its second base airport after home base at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo. This year the project is entering its next phase.
One year has passed since Aeroflot’s new regional gateway at Krasnoyarsk International Airport launched on June 1, 2021. In these 12 months, airlines, which make up Aeroflot Group (Aeroflot, Rossiya and LCC Pobeda) carried collectively around 1 million passengers, enabling the airport to hit the record high passenger traffic numbers in its over 40-year history.
Aeroflot’s new hub project was designed to achieve one of the strategic goals the government set out to the industry – developing direct inter-regional connections avoiding congested Moscow airspace. In its first year of operation Aeroflot launched flights from Krasnoyarsk to the neighboring regions. The most popular destinations in the programme were Blagoveschensk and Irkutsk, as well as Black Sea holiday destinations such as Sochi and Krasnodar.
“The results of the first year of Aeroflot’s hub operations at Krasnoyarsk show impressive synergy of this partnership – 15 new destinations have been added to the airport’s route network, Aeroflot Group’s airlines carried 1 million passengers on 4,223 flights. Aeroflot’s results are a powerful drive for traffic through Krasnoyarsk, and the ripple effect spreads beyond, to transport networks around Russia,” says Andrey Metzer, general director of Krasnoyarsk airport.
“In a short period we achieved the goal of creating Aeroflot’s first regional base outside Moscow, which proved popular with passengers. A lot has been done, but ahead is intense work in the new economic reality, and our Krasnoyarsk base transforms with new missions,” comments Aeroflot’s general director Sergey Alexandrovsky.
To boost affordable travel in the regions, Aeroflot Group made the decision to transfer operation of Krasnoyarsk flights from premium carrier Aeroflot to its sister airline Rossiya, which is positioned in the medium price segment. This also paves way to the next stage of the project as one of Russia’s key regional hubs, enabling efficient operations of Rossiya’s locally-made Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jets as well as Boeing 737-800s configured with all-economy cabin. This means cheaper fares may be offered to public. Starting June 6 Aeroflot has been gradually handing off its Krasnoyarsk schedule to Rossiya, which is now flying to Sochi, Blagoveschensk, Irkutsk, Novy Urengoy and Chita. Later this month Rossiya will expand its route network from KJA to include an array of new domestic destinations –as well as the largest cities in Kyrgyzstan, Osh and Bishkek. The flights will be operated by SSJ100.
This transformation was preceded by creation of Rossiya’s Krasnoyarsk division. Basing some crews here helps seamless operations. Rossiya plans to hire over 200 ground and cabin crew members locally, and the number may increase later on.
Rossiya is Russia’s second largest airline by fleet and the largest operator of Russian-made aircraft.
Flight safety remains absolute priority for Aeroflot Group. To ensure technical support of all Aeroflot flights operated from Krasnoyarsk since June 2021, the group established a line maintenance station of its MRO subsidiary A-Technics at the airport. The regional station provides support during aircraft turnaround, all line maintenance and engineering, including checks, structural repairs and service bulletins (SBs).
With Rossiya launching an expanded flight programme from Krasnoyarsk, A-Technics will also provide maintenance to its aircraft. The station holds Rosaviatsiya’s FAP-285 certificate for maintenance of Superjet 100, as well as Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737NG. The provider’s qualified staff and modern equipment are pre-requisite for ensuring safe and stable aircraft operations according to the airline’s schedule.
KRASNOYARSK AIRPORT – IN THE HEART OF SIBERIA
Krasnoyarsk International Airport was selected to serve as Aeroflot’s first regional base and a large hub for several reasons. KJA is one of the most important air transport hubs in Siberia and the Far Eastern region of Russia, it is one of the country’s TOP-15 airports. It caters for Krasnoyarsk, Russia’s easternmost city with the population of over 1 million. Krasnoyarsk with 1.1 million inhabitants is surrounded by vast Krasnoyarsky Kray. The city is a large industrial, scientific and logistics centre. An array of regular high-profile events drive growth of tourist traffic into the region, whilst the Krasnoyarsk Kray administration’s strategy for social and economic development until 2030 is set to transform the region and its main city.
Krasnoyarsk airport is the strategic transit hub for air connections between Russia’s European part and Asia. Its location within 5,000 to 6,000 km from key destinations in Europe and South-East Asia means most routes may be operated by medium-haul aircraft. Thanks to the airport’s favorable geographical position Aeroflot will be able to organize transfer between points in Ural, Siberia and Southern regions of Russia – and China, as well as other Asian destinations.
2021 turned out to be a milestone year for the airport in many respects, including the highest number of passengers through the terminal in a day, and a historic annual passenger traffic record. Last year Krasnoyarsk airport handled 2.73 million passengers, marking the all-time high in the airport’s 41-year history. The number of passengers exceeded the previous record set in 2018 by 5.5 per cent. Compared to COVID-19-stricken 2020, the traffic growth reached 63%. Aeroflot made a great contribution to the high operational results, leading the local market by the number of passengers to and from KJA.
The airport’s traffic growth continues through the new challenging times. In May 2022 the airport handled 203,100 passengers, up 7 per cent year-on-year, setting the record for May of any other year.
The airport is actively developing and updating its infrastructure. The most significant investment, since the launch of the new passenger terminal in 2017, was construction of a new main taxiway last year. It runs parallel to the runway, for safe taxi of arriving aircraft from one end of the runway to the parking area without interfering with departing aircraft. It has three holding points, which enables efficient operation of the runway reducing taxi time and queuing. After opening of the new main taxiway the number of aircraft movements doubled. The airport can now handle up to 24 movements per hour, meaning take-offs and landings are performed every 3 minutes, and airlines are offered more slots in the peak hours.
This year KJA has started extensive repairs of its apron. The apron area of some 109,200 square meters of paved surface will be repaired, also creating space for five additional aircraft stands and two de-icing bays, as well as dedicated lighting for servicing aircraft at stand. The reconstruction of the apron is scheduled to complete in December 2023.
The annual capacity of the passenger terminal is up to 5 million passengers, or 1,300 passengers per hour. The airport’s runway is equipped according to ICAO Cat II.
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