Russian airline traffic showing signs of slow recovery; Transaero’s domestic growth

Image: United launch of non-stop service from Washington Dulles to Moscow Domodedovo
Sergey Rudakov (Airport Director, Moscow Domodedovo), John Beyrle (US Ambassador) and Michael Whitaker (VP, United Airlines) wait with baited breath for the signal to open United’s non-stop service from Moscow Domodedovo to Washington Dulles at the start of this year’s summer season. Photo: Moscow Domodedovo airport

The Russian air transport market which boomed in 2007 and the first half of 2008 is undergoing a period of consolidation and re-adjustment. Passenger numbers flying on Russian carriers in the first five months of 2009 were down 19.4% to 14.1 million. Domestic traffic was down 20.2% to 7.7 million while international traffic was down 18.5% to 6.4 million. In recent months the rate of decline has eased slightly with passenger numbers in May down only 16.3%. It has been reported that June figures are down just 13.4%.

Chart: Russian airline development 2008-09 (Change in passenger numbers versus previous year)
Source: TCH

In the first five months of 2009 passenger numbers at Russia’s busiest airport (Moscow Domodedovo) were down 22%. Traffic at the two other Moscow airports, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo, were down 11% while Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg saw traffic dip by some 13%.

New routes started this year to Russia operated by non-Russian carriers have been few and far between though United started Washington services at the end of March, TAP started serving Domodedovo from Lisbon in June, Hainan Airlines started flights from Beijing in March and BlueWings of Germany has started a number of low frequency services to Moscow Sheremetyevo from regional airports such as Leipzig/Halle, Munster/Osnabruck and Karlsruhe/Baden.

Moscow dominates domestic routes

Not surprisingly domestic traffic is dominated by routes to and from the various Moscow airports. In May the busiest routes were between Moscow and St Petersburg (158,000 passengers), Krasnodar (73,000), Ekaterinburg (64,000), Sochi/Adler (57,000) and Novosibirsk (56,000).

So far this year Transaero has started new domestic routes from Moscow Domodedovo to Anapa, Blagoveshchensk, Irkutsk, Kazan, Krasnodar, Magadan, Omsk, Samara and Ufa, bringing to 20 the number of domestic routes it now operates from Domodedovo. Rival S7 operates 33 domestic routes from the airport.


  1. SPB says:

    it’s hard to agree retarded downtur to compare with slow recovery.
    If the major US Airlines who have flights to Russia reduced prices in July and August, what will be in autum. They will pay for passengers to get them on flights to US.

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