Passenger traffic on Russian airlines down nearly 3% in March

The overall traffic slump was a result of fewer passengers being carried on international routes The overall traffic slump was a result of fewer passengers being carried on international routes (Photo by Leonid Faerberg /

The combined passenger traffic reported by Russian carriers in March this year shrank 2.7% year-on-year to 5.826 million, the Federal Air Transport Agency (FATA) reports.

The overall decline can be explained the shrinking international traffic, which fell some 21.4% in March to 2.006 million passengers. Traffic on routes between Russia and the other CIS countries dropped 17.7% to 471,100 passengers; 22.5% fewer passengers (1.537 million) were flown on routes between Russia and destinations outside the CIS. This is fully in line with the long-standing trend of traffic within the CIS shrinking at a lower pace (except for February of this year, when traffic fell 21.7% year-on-year compared to 18.0% to destinations farther abroad).

Domestic traffic grew in March, also keeping with an established trend. A total of 3.830 million passengers were carried domestically (up 11.3%).

The overall seat load factor grew by 2.9 percentage points to 77.9%. The amount of freight and mail carried by passenger airliners reached 99,600 tons (up 15.8%).

The combined passenger traffic in January-March shrank 2.8% to 16.525 million, whereas the seat load factor grew from 74.8% to 75.9%. The amount of freight and mail carried grew 10.2% to 252,800 tons.

Each of the top five airlines demonstrated traffic growth in the first quarter of 2016. Aeroflot carried 6.229 million passengers (up 13.9%); S7 Airlines, 1.965 million (up 25.9%); UTair Aviation, 1.220 million (up 17.9%); Ural Airlines, 1.042 million (up 17.0%); and Pobeda, 950,800 (up 259.0%). The five carriers together accounted for 69% of all passengers flown over the reported period (up from 54.9%).

The top 15 Russian airlines carried a combined 90.8% of all passengers flown in Q1, up from 77.0%. Since late March, Donavia (13th largest airline for passengers carried) and OrenAir (eighth largest) have been operating as part of the merged super-carrier Rossiya (sixth largest for passengers in Q1). The merger may yet change the landscape of the Russian air transport market: Rossiya is expected to have carried over 9 million passengers in 2016.

UTair so far is the only of the top five carriers to have provided detailed statistics on its March performance. The airline carried 459,400 passengers, 33.7% up year-on-year. Its fleet flew 12,900 revenue hours (up 32.8%). UTair also carried 1,300 tons of freight and 481 tons of mail, or 15% and 96.2% up year-on-year, respectively. The management puts the overall performance growth down to a complex of measures to streamline business processes and adapt the business model to the current market situation, including through introducing additional frequencies and expanding the route network to a greater number of popular destinations.

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