Russian airlines carried 17% more passengers in the first six months of 2012 than they had over the same period in 2011; the total number of passengers carried this year is expected to top 70 million people, for the first time in Russia’s recent history. The top five airlines in passengers carried have not changed from one year ago but their order in the rating got somewhat rearranged (see the table at p. 20). The combined share of these five largest market players in the total number of passengers carried continues to grow, but the rating of leaders in international passenger services is significantly different from the overall results across the industry — a reflection the growing presence of individual airlines on international routes originating in Russian airports outside Moscow. The increasing role of international charter services is also playing a role here.
The only change in the top five of Russia’s largest airlines from last year is that UTair Aviation has beat S7 Airlines to third place in total passengers carried. Although UTair lost to Aeroflot and Transaero both in passengers carried and in passenger kilometres, its results proved higher than the combined figures for S7 and Globus (another S7 Group carrier, which also operates under the S7 Airlines brand). Aeroflot’s leading position remains unreachable even for the closest rival Transaero.
The ranking of airlines in terms of passengers carried on international routes differs from the overall leaders list. It has also changed year-on-year, with Ural Airlines ousting OrenAir from its third place after the steady performers Aeroflot and Transaero. S7 Airlines came fourth, an improvement from its sixths position one year ago. UTair also saw its standing improved from eighth to fifth place. UTair, S7 and Ural Airlines are predominantly scheduled network airlines; charter operations form a minor portion of their business.
The current growth in international passenger numbers can be explained, among other factors, by the intensified airline activity on scheduled routes to destinations in CIS countries and farther abroad. Such flights often originate in Russian regional centers outside Moscow. For example, Urals Airlines in 2012 launched scheduled services between Yekaterinburg and Harbin, between Nizhny Novgorod and Prague, between Irkutsk and Guangzhou, and between Moscow and Cologne. Last winter the carrier introduced flights from Chelyabinsk to Vienna, Harbin and Dubai (its winter schedule listed flights to Dubai from nine Russian cities), and also expanded its offer of flights to China. S7 Airlines increased its frequencies from Novosibirsk to Frankfurt and Prague, and also from Moscow to Chisinau. The carrier this summer resumed services to Hannover, Burgas, Varna, and Simferopol, and additionally opened new routes from Moscow to Pula and Odessa. Unlike S7 Airlines, which is gradually reducing the number of charter flights in its operations, UTair has only recently entered the tourist charter market. Since 2010 the airline has been operating Boeing 757-200s and several other aircraft types in the interests of a tour operator, thus expanding its route network. UTair is also active in the international scheduled services segment, particularly with regard to the CIS routes, many of which have seen a faster growth in passenger numbers than services to destinations farther away from Russia.
Although Russia’s charter operators have somewhat lost their market positions due to the growing presence of the largest network airlines in the international segment, they are still to be reckoned with. Nordwind Airlines and OrenАir are sixth and seventh, respectively, in the ranking of the leading Russian carriers on international routes. Kolavia, which entered a partnership deal with TUI earlier this year, has risen from 19th to 10th place on the list.