As the recovery of air transport gains ground around the world, the pace of this process in Russia is exceeding the world average. The main driver of the recovery is certainly the domestic sector, as international connections are still limited by the restrictions linked to the pandemic. The size of the country, however, helps Russian airlines somewhat offset the protracted damage to their international networks. While total traffic for the first eight months of 2021 reached 82% of the same pre-pandemic 2019 months, the domestic market posted a 20% increase over 2019 figures. Three Russian airlines – none Surprisingly, those that focus on low budget regional travel – managed to outperform their results for the same period of 2019 by double digits. Overall, the freight sector is also growing by 20% on average. according to reports from the Russian aviation regulator Rosaviatsiya.
Collectively, from January to August, Russian airlines served 71.22 million passengers, equivalent to 82% of traffic in the same months of 2019. RPKs remain 30% below standard, due to the suspension of international long-haul routes.
In August alone, traffic almost reached the level of 2019, being only 4% below the norm and almost 1.5 times above August 2020. The domestic segment, however, was 31% higher than in 2019, demonstrating the good recovery path that the Russian market has taken during the summer season.
Aeroflot Group 8-month results
Among Russia’s growth leaders is Pobeda Airlines, the low-cost division of the Aeroflot group. In the first eight months of 2021, it served 9.4 million passengers, an impressive 42% increase from the same period of 2019. It now ranks third among Russian carriers and joins sister airlines Aeroflot and Rossiya in the top-5 elite, which are combined responsible for over 66 percent of Russia’s total traffic. During this period, the airlines of the Aeroflot group collectively served 29.3 million passengers, down 26.5% from 2019. The main negative factor that still plagues Aeroflot’s business is the restrictions on international travel.
Highlights of the Aeroflot group in August 2021
-The Aeroflot group carried 5.5 million passengers, up 50.3% over one year and down only 10.9% compared to 2019;
-4.5 million passengers transported in the domestic segment, up 30.2% year-on-year and 31.3% compared to 2019;
–Group RPK increased by 58.7% year on year and decreased by 23.2% compared to 2019, ASK increased by 58.9% year on year and decreased by 19 , 8% compared to 2019;
–Aeroflot Group’s passenger load factor was 86.5%, down 0.1 percentage point year-over-year;
–The Aeroflot group transported 25.5 thousand tonnes of freight and mail, up 27.7% year on year;
–LCC Pobeda carried 1.5 million passengers; the passenger load factor was 95.8%.
In accordance with its new strategy, the Russian national carrier is orienting its activity towards a premium service, mainly on international routes. The pent-up demand for international travel to Russia is huge, and once the connection reopens, the seats fill up quickly. A number of international routes that have been relaunched this summer – mainly to popular holiday destinations in Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives, are a convincing demonstration of the demand, which is there. There is great hope that once vaccines are mutually validated and immunization record keeping is standardized, the borders will reopen. By mid-September, more than 46 million Russians had completed the two-stage vaccination. Four vaccines have been developed in Russia and are available free of charge to the population. The state encourages people to vaccinate through a number of measures, including making vaccines mandatory for certain occupational groups, and vaccination rates are increasing. With the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, the Russian government is judiciously not imposing restrictions on travel within the country, thus boosting the development of the local tourism industry. As the economy recovers and consumer confidence recovers, the number of vacationers is increasing, but still has not reached half of the country’s population, meaning there is still huge potential. development of the travel market.
In the meantime, the Aeroflot group is pursuing its strategy of strengthening the market segmentation of its airline subsidiaries. The growth of Pobeda is proof of the smooth running and effectiveness of the strategy. The airline maintains the high utilization rate of its one-design Boeing 737-800 fleet with an average seat occupancy rate of 95.8%. Title carrier Aeroflot takes a systematic approach to bringing the passenger experience up to the highest standards in the world. It is continuing its efforts to renew its fleet, by bringing in the latest environmentally friendly aircraft. As of August 31, 2021, Aeroflot Group’s combined fleet consisted of 349 aircraft, including new types such as the Airbus A320 neo and the Airbus A350.
Always top-of-the-range service
Aeroflot’s efforts to provide top-notch service have recently been recognized with several international awards. It was named the world’s most punctual airline because it surpassed the August 2021 punctuality performance ranking among the world’s major airlines. Aeroflot performed 92 percent of its flights on time, according to the monthly on-time performance report published by Cirium. The Russian national airline has steadily improved its punctuality performance through effective measures, including strict implementation of flight boarding regulations. Future plans include innovations based on the latest digital technologies, such as biometric controls, which will significantly speed up pre-flight airport procedures for passengers.
Aeroflot also won the Skytrax award for best airline in Eastern Europe for the eighth consecutive time. The World Airline Awards are presented annually by Skytrax, the world’s leading authority on the quality of air and airport services. Ratings are based on the world’s largest passenger satisfaction survey of more than 350 airlines. Commenting on the survey results, Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax said: âAeroflot continues its momentum by being named the best airline in Eastern Europe and has performed well in the world rankings once again. ranked among the 25 best global airlines and No. 4 in Europe. Aeroflot has positioned itself as the preferred choice for passengers, not only in Russia and Eastern Europe, but as a major player in the entire European market.
Aware of the environment
“The environment is becoming one of the most important topics in the aviation industry, and it has only become more urgent because of the pandemic”, comments Mikhail Poluboyarinov, CEO of Aeroflot. âThe Aeroflot group has always paid particular attention to environmental efficiency. By modernizing our fleet and operating modern aircraft, we have been able to reduce our carbon footprint by 30% over the past decade. And it is gratifying to know that our subsidiary, Pobeda, which is at the heart of our growth strategy, is already one of the greenest airlines in Europe.
In an unprecedented move for Russia, Aeroflot has partnered with fuel supplier Gazprom Neft to collaborate on the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) in the Russian market. Russia’s main airline plans to use SAF on national and international routes, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of air transport. SAF is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to kerosene.
âThe agreement we signed with Gazprom Neft to develop a sustainable fuel is the next important step in improving our environmental efficiency,â Poluboyarinov continues. Many international airlines have started testing SAF and plan to dramatically increase the share of SAF they use over the next 10 to 20 years. As we reaffirm our commitment to the environmental priorities of the global aviation industry, it is also very important to the Aeroflot Group that the use of SAF is not only environmentally friendly, but also economically viable.
Alexander Dyukov, Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Neft, said: âBoth at home and abroad, we are seeing a potentially significant demand from the aviation industry for green fuel, given the goal of reduce the carbon intensity of air travel. Thanks to its technical and scientific capacities, Gazprom Neft is able to play an active role in the development of such a product. The main research site will be the Gazprom Neft Industrial Innovation Technology Center in St. Petersburg. And our partnership with Russia’s largest airline will only improve the process of developing low-carbon aircraft fuel. “