World Cup matches boost in-bound “tourism” in Belarus; Etihad’s new link to Abu Dhabi

Image: England Fans with Painted Faces at Belarus
England’s 3-1 win last week in Minsk was a boost for its airport, which received above-average traffic from British fans. The Belarusian Tourist Board is hoping the region will now receive a tourism boost.

Map: Belarus MapThe good folk of Minsk, the capital of Belarus, recently had the dubious privilege of welcoming English football fans to their country as England took on the national team as part of their attempts to qualify for the World Cup in 2010 to be held in South Africa. No doubt some charter flights will have given a boost to Minsk’s airport traffic which has yet to reach one million passengers annually, despite this being the main airport for a population of some 10 million people living in a country not much smaller than the UK. The impressive terminal is designed to handle up to five million passengers so no new infrastructure should be required for a while.

Chart: Belarus air transport data 2003-2007
Source: ATI

Belavia, the national airline, focuses on Russian connections

Logo: Belavia, Belarusian AirlinesThe 100% government-owned flag-carrier Belavia operates a relatively small fleet consisting of five TU-154s, six 737s and a solitary CRJ. Another CRJ was destroyed in a non-fatal accident at Yerevan in Armenia earlier this year. Passenger numbers were up almost 30% in 2007 while average load factors have improved from under 60% in 2003 to just under 70% in 2007. The carrier currently operates to 20 destinations including four in Russia which account for half of the airline’s scheduled capacity. Moscow Sheremetyevo is served thrice daily while Moscow Domodedovo is served twice daily. Both of these routes are operated by a mix of Russian and Western aircraft.

Belavia serves a number of destinations in Western Europe including Berlin, Frankfurt, London Gatwick, Milan Malpena, Paris CDG and Rome Fiumicino. None of these destinations are served more than three times per week.

Image: Belavia Planes on runway
Belavia’s fleet consists of a mix of TU-154s, 737s and a CRJ. The 737s are used on routes to Western European destinations and the CRJ is used on routes to Kiev, Moscow and Prague.

Etihad began flights to Minsk in August

Image: Etihad begin twice-weekly flights from Minsk to Abu Dhabi in August 2008
Etihad has become the main contributor to growth at its Abu Dhabi hub. The carrier inaugurated its first flight to the Belarus capital two months ago.

In early August Etihad began twice-weekly flights from Minsk to Abu Dhabi thus becoming the first of the major Middle Eastern carriers to serve Belarus. Among western flag carriers Austrian has the highest frequency with double daily flights to Vienna, while Lufthansa (to Frankfurt) and airBaltic (to Riga) also offer daily connections. Other Central European carriers such as CSA Czech Airlines, Estonian Air and LOT also serve Minsk either three or four times weekly while Turkish Airlines offers flights to Istanbul.


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