UTair expects to maintain the upward trend

UTair carried 18% more passengers in 2016 than in the previous year - Russian Aviation News UTair carried 18% more passengers in 2016 than in the previous year (Photo by UTair)

UTair, one of Russia’s top-five air carriers, expects to continue upward trend in 2017 in both number of passengers and volume of revenues. “According to the business-plan the revenues in aircraft segment are expected to grow 14%, and in helicopter segment by 8%”, the airline said in the official statement, adding that the planned revenue and cash flow will enable to fulfill its obligations to the creditors.

It ended 2016 with 18% traffic increase, carrying 6.52 million passengers and showing a full recover from financial problems it faced two years ago. UTair now predicts that domestic air travel market will stagnate this year so it expects more moderate passenger growth for this year, just about 6.7%, to 6.988 million people. Another negative factor which will influence the market is a total capacity increase. However the airline plans to maintain the upward trend sticking to has worked out the strategy.

This year UTair will continue to work on increasing the operational efficiency of its fleet. In 2016 this policy enabled it to outperform its target objectives. In 2017 the fleet’s total flight time is to increase by 8%. UTair will focus on specific regions where it is elaborating a more intensive flight program.

The airline’s fleet will remain at 65 aircraft – 32 Boeing 737-500s, nine Boeing 737-800s, six Boeing 737-400s, three Boeing 767-200 and 15 ATR 72s. The flight time increase is expected due to reducing turn-around time and introducing a new approach to managing maintenance. Increasing load factor by 2 percentage points to 72% should also lead to traffic growth. UTair plans to enhance its product offering, develop route network and improve passenger experience.

In particular, the airline is intending to upgrade business-class interiors on most of its aircraft, introduce special meal pre-order, and expand the functionality of online-services and mobile application.

This year UTair plans to operate more than 250 daily flights to over 70 destinations inside and outside Russia. It will launch new European destinations from Moscow and increase frequencies on the existing routes. Over 90% of the flight program in 2017 will focus on regular flights, while charter program will be expanded through contracts with large partners such as the United Nations Organization, and Russian oil and gas companies like Surgutneftegaz, Lukoil and Yamal SPG and others.

The airline carried 19,360 tons of cargo in 2016 what is by 6.4% more than in the previous year. This year the growth is projected at 3.9% to 20,146 tons.

UTair has also presented a business-plan for its helicopter division. The airline does not expect fast growth on this market in 2017 too. It believes that the customers for helicopter services will be more demanding in terms of both flight safety and service quality what will require the introduction of more modern rotorcraft. The operator assured that it is ready for the challenge due to “timely investments into fleet renovation in the previous years.”

The operator expects that demand for Mi-8MTV/AMT heavy transport helicopters and Airbus Helicopters AS350/355 light models to rise. Total helicopter flight time inside Russia should increase by 9% to 668,800 hours. UTair’s foreign subsidiaries flight time is forecast to reach 40,000 hours. 50 rotary and five fixed-wing aircraft will be involved for work under contract with the UN.

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