Five Russian airlines expanded their fleets in June, with the majority of the newly added aircraft consisting of Boeings, despite the on-going suspension of deliveries of the 737MAX which were scheduled to start arriving in Russia in the recent spring period. The only Russian carrier that has preferred Airbus to its American rival is S7 Airlines.
Privately owned Smartavia (the new brand name of Nordavia Airlines) took delivery of three aircraft in the month. The Arkhangelsk-headquartered regional carrier leased two Boeing 737-800s from GECAS, whilst its third latest B737-800 is a 2003-vintage airframe fitted with 189 passenger seats in a single economy class configuration and which was previously operated by Yakutia Airlines. Of Smartavia’s fleet of 13 aircraft, four are B737-800s and the airline intends to increase the number of NGs to seven before the end of this year.
Meanwhile, as Russian charter airline Royal Flight added a Boeing 737-800 leased from AerCap in June, the airline also commenced operations of a new type, the Boeing 777. Royal Flight’s all-Boeing fleet now consists of 14 aircraft.
Also in June, Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda Airlines took delivery of its 30th aircraft. A Boeing 737-800, with registration VP-BQZ, is on lease from Sberbank Leasing. The factory-fresh aircraft, with a single-class configured cabin, arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at the end of June.
In the month, S7 Airlines took delivery of two Airbus A320neos. The Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered aircraft feature double-class cabins with eight seats in business and 156 in economy. With this latest addition, the airline passed an important milestone – its fleet has now reached 100 aircraft.
Yakutia Airlines, which focuses on routes in Siberia and the Russian far eastern region, has now started flying its second Boeing 737-700, registration VP-BIO, which joined its fleet on May 31. Due to the on-going runway reconstruction at its Yakutsk airport base, the only medium-haul aircraft type it can currently handle is the Boeing 737-700. Yakutia Airlines has nevertheless become the only carrier operating non-stop fights to central Russia. Its fleet currently counts 15 airframes.
By way of contrast, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot did not bring in any additional aircraft in June. At the recent annual shareholder meeting the airline’s general director Vitaliy Saveliev complained that excessive seating capacity in the Russian market is creating an environment commensurate with price damping. “Regretfully, the Russian air travel market today offers an excess of seating capacity, assessed at between 10 and 12 per cent. So whilst the traffic grows, the margins leave much to be desired,” he said.
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