Pobeda Airlines, Russia’s only low-cost carrier (LCC), is a step closer to formalising the acquisition of 20 newest Boeing 737MAX-8 aircraft, after the board of directors of its parent Aeroflot Group – chaired by Evgeny Ditrikh who is also minister of transport of the Russian Federation – outlined its ‘position in respect to the operating leases [of these aircraft] transactions’ as positive.
A statement, released after the board’s 13 December meeting, says that two operating lease transactions are envisioned: for five B737MAX-8s with lessor GECAS and a further 15 of the type with SMBC Aviation Capital Limited. The preliminary term of delivery for the first transaction is defined as between 01.11.2019 and 01.06.2020 and, for the second, between 01.11.2019 and 01.11.2021. Pobeda’s plan to acquire up to 30 re-engined Boeing narrow-bodies was first revealed in July of this year.
In Aeroflot Group’s latest five-year strategic plan, which is ambitiously planning to double its passenger numbers, it is Pobeda which is set to deliver the biggest boost by growing 34 per cent annually over the next five years. By 2023, the budget airline is expected to be carrying some 25-30 million passengers annually, compared to the estimated seven million for 2018 (50 per cent more than last year).
Pobeda Airlines launched operations in 2014 and, at present, boasts the Russian scheduled air service industry’s record seat load factor of 97 per cent. The fast-growing Moscow-based LCC currently operates a mono fleet of 24 Boeing 737-800s.
In related developing trend, in three years the number of Boeing aircraft in the entire Aeroflot Group’s fleet (which includes Aeroflot, Pobeda, Rossiya Airlines and Aurora) will exceed the number of Airbus models. At the beginning of this year, the group operated 176 Airbus aircraft and 98 Boeing jets.
By the end of 2021, the fleet will boast 149 Boeing aircraft and 136 Airbuses, partly due to low-cost carrier Pobeda Airlines’ aggressive plans to enlarge its Boeing 737 fleet, Russian Aviation Insider estimates.
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