Russia maintains 20% growth in 2008; Turkey and Egypt leading international markets

Image: Celebration
Vladivostok Avia launched a three times weekly service from Moscow Vnukovo to Frankfurt-Hahn on 30 April. Oleg Nikolskiy, director of Moscow’s Ministry for Transport; Victor Gennadievich Kryuchkov, director general of Vladivostok Avia; and Joerg Schumacher, managing director of Frankfurt-Hahn, cut the red ribbon on the arrival of the first flight.

Despite being the world’s largest country (over 75% larger than the USA) and having a population of over 140 million people, Russia’s population density is among the lowest on the planet. But with a booming energy-driven economy it is still surprising that Russia’s 102 airports with scheduled services handled less than 90 million passengers in 2007, despite growth of around 20% last year.

Russia’s top four airports are the three Moscow airports of Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo, and St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport. These four airports handled over 45 million passengers last year and are responsible for around 55% of all scheduled capacity.

Chart: Traffic at Russia’s top 4 airports
Source: Airport websites

In the last five years traffic at these four major airports has grown by over 90%. Traffic has almost tripled at Moscow Domodedovo, and more than doubled at Moscow Vnukovo. In the first six months of 2008 traffic is understood to be maintaining growth of around 20%.


S7 typifies Russia’s restored confidence, ordering 15 of these nice Dreamliners. If you want to hear where they will fly to come and listen to Vadim Besperstov, S7’s Commercial Director at the joint 1st network Planner’s Marketplace at ACI EUROPE’s Airport Exchange, hosted by Berlin Airports 27-29 October.

Moscow and St Petersburg dominate airport rankings

Moscow’s three airports alone account for around 45% of all scheduled flights in and out of Russian airports. In 2007 Russia had 13 airports which handled at least one million passengers. Given current growth rates that number could rise to 18 this year.

Chart: Top 15 Russian airports
Source: TCH

The fifth largest airport, Ekaterinburg, handled 2.25 million passengers last year, an increase of 33% on 2006. Thanks to KD-Avia’s “hub” concept at Kaliningrad that airport has moved from twelfth in last year’s rankings to seventh based on the first seven months of 2008.

Image: Terminal
St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport will begin building a new 200,000sqm terminal next year. It is scheduled to be completed in 2012 and will have a capacity of 22 million passengers per year. Pulkovo’s deputy director Viktor Konyashchenkov said: “Pulkovo Airport is the gateway to St Petersburg, which is the most European city in Russia. The airport will be the workplace for thousands of people, as increasing passenger traffic will create many jobs in and around the airport and it will increase the social importance of the airport company. During the next few years our main goal is to become the most convenient entry point for Russian passengers to Europe and to European guests to Russia.”

S7, Aeroflot and UTair lead domestic market

Since the break-up of the old Aeroflot in the early 1990s no single carrier dominates the domestic market. Even market leader S7 (Siberian Airlines) has less than 15% of the total domestic market with four other carriers having at least 5%.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Domestic Routes Domestic Passengers in 2007
S7 12.0% 14.2% 49 3.60m
Aeroflot 11.1% 12.5% 25 2.81m
UTAir 15.8% 11.7% 87 2.57m
KrasAir 4.8% 6.4% 32 0.93m
Rossiya 6.4% 6.2% 33 1.65m
SkyExpress 4.2% 4.7% 8 0.68m
KD Avia 3.0% 4.1% 14 0.33m
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 8 September 2008, TCH

An analysis of the domestic market shows that 41 airlines operate scheduled flights to just over 100 Russian airports. In recent weeks the future of KrasAir has been of some concern. Part of the AiRUnion alliance, some flights have been grounded due to unpaid bills while the Russian government banned the airline (and others in the AiRUnion alliance) from selling tickets for the winter season. Now it seems the government plans to create an even bigger airline alliance, probably still under the AiRUnion name but with different ownership. As a first step, AiRUnion’s Moscow flights are being moved from Domodedovo to Vnukovo.

Routes to Germany dominate international scheduled flights

Image: Lead Image
American Airlines launched a six times weekly service from Chicago to Moscow Domodedovo in June. “From the economic viewpoint, the American sector is a growing and promising one. Many American companies operate in Russia these days. Furthermore, Moscow is becoming an ever more attractive cultural centre for foreigners. Chicago, in turn, is an important business and tourist centre of the United States,” said Craig Kreeger, Senior Vice President of American Airlines.

A total of 67 countries are served by international flights to and from Russia including weekly flights to Afghanistan, Indonesia, Maldives, Portugal and Singapore.

Chart: Top 12 International country markets
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 8 September 2008

By far the largest country market for scheduled services is Germany followed by Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Armenia. Italy and France both have more weekly capacity than the UK, while China also figures prominently. These top 12 country markets account for just under 60% of all international operations.

Aeroflot remains the dominant airline, operating almost a quarter of all flights and seats on scheduled international routes. Russian airlines dominate the rankings though Lufthansa makes a strong impression with its 11 routes accounting for over 5% of the market. It serves Moscow Sheremetyevo from five German airports and serves a further five Russian destinations from its main Frankfurt base.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Routes
Aeroflot 23.3% 24.6% 64
Transaero 6.2% 8.1% 38
Lufthansa 5.7% 5.4% 11
KD Avia 3.7% 3.9% 19
S7 3.9% 3.7% 38
Rossiya 3.6% 3.0% 33
Uzbekistan Airways 2.4% 3.0% 30
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 8 September 2008

A total of 102 airlines operate international flights to and from Russia, though European LCCs are currently poorly represented due to regulatory constraints. Air Berlin operates five routes accounting for 1.2% of total international capacity, while Germanwings operates six routes accounting for 0.9%. Italian LCC WindJet operates seven, mostly weekly, routes and Norwegian a further two routes. Neither of the two main Central European LCCs, SkyEurope and Wizz Air, has yet gained permission to start services to Russia.

Turkey and Egypt are top leisure destinations

The two largest country markets for all types of operation are Turkey and Egypt which are mostly served by non-scheduled flights. In 2007 the top international route by passenger volume (on Russian airlines only) was Moscow to Antalya which attracted 2.42 million passengers. The next most popular routes were from Moscow to Hurghada (1.02 million), Sharm El-Sheikh (0.96 million) and Istanbul (0.71 million). Traffic flows across all three Moscow airports are combined in these calculations.


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