St Petersburg now offers 7th freedoms to 30 countries
Moscow’s airports added 28 million seats in the past five years. Now St Petersburg – Russia’s second-largest city and the country’s fourth-busiest airport – is keen to really stimulate tourism and benefit from the resulting economic development. To this end, the city – rather than Russia as a whole – has taken two very bold steps.
Free visas and seventh freedom rights
St Petersburg has introduced e-visas free-of-charge for citizens of 53 countries, including all of the EU (except the UK), doing away with the need for Russia’s longwinded and expensive ‘normal’ visas. And most eye-openingly, it has, from the 1st January, introduced seventh freedom traffic rights that will likely appeal most to foreign LCCs.
Seventh freedoms now available
Seven freedoms are routes that don’t touch an airline’s home country, such as LOT beginning Warsaw – St Petersburg, then operating St Petersburg – Venice – St Petersburg as separate services, before returning to Warsaw.
The opened access is now available from St Petersburg to 30 countries. There are no restrictions – airports able to be served, frequency, capacity, aircraft, number of airlines – to 21 of these, including Belgium, Malta, and Switzerland.
|Countries with no restrictions|
But there are restrictions to nine, which includes Germany – a crucial market from Russia – and Cyprus. In reality, they’re available to 29 rather than 30 countries, because the rules state that for Cyprus “all cities except Larnaca and Paphos” are available.
|Austria||All cities except Vienna|
|Bulgaria||Only flights allowed to Sofia|
|Cyprus||All cities except Larnaca and Paphos|
|Czech Republic||All cities except Prague|
|France||All cities except Paris and Nice|
|Germany||All cities except Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, and Munich|
|Great Britain||All cities except London|
|Italy||All cities except Rome and Milan|
|Spain||All cities except Barcelona and Malaga|
Top unserved and underserved routes from Europe to St Petersburg
All of which leads onto St Petersburg’s key unserved and underserved routes in 2019, with traffic both ways combined. Number-one unserved is, of course, Kiev, but with the current Russia – Ukraine relationship, there’s no point including this. On the 17th January, Wizz Air announced St Petersburg to Bratislava (also serving nearby Vienna), Bucharest, Sofia, and Vilnius. Two of these four feature in the “top” list. With 10,700 passengers, unserved Bucharest was not far off inclusion.
|Copenhagen||33,800||98% indirect; seasonal by SAS|
|Geneva||31,800||84% indirect; weekly seasonal services by both Rossiya and Swiss|
|Oslo||27,300||Unserved in 2019, but served every year since 2010, including by Norwegian until 2015 and then Rusline|
|Madrid||27,800||89% indirect; summer-seasonal Iberia|
|Lisbon||19,800||Unserved. Last served by TAP in 2015|
|Venice||18,100||Unserved. Served by Air One and Alitalia over the years, last in 2018|
|Stuttgart||17,800||Unserved. Last served by airberlin in 2011.|
|Vilnius||16,000||Unserved. Last served by Rusline in 2017. Wizz Air will now operate the route|
|Lyon||15,800||Unserved. Last served by S7 in 2017|
|Sofia||15,700||Unserved. Served by Bulgaria Air and Russiya in various years since 2010. Wizz Air will now operate the route|
|Cologne||15,100||68% indirect. Served by Pobeda|
|Source: OAG Traffic Analyser|