It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that over the past few years, the Russian business aviation market has been a source of demand for the charter sector. Even during turbulent times – both economically and politically – the Russian market continues to perform well.
However, that being said, there are numerous factors impeding future development. At the top of this list is the problem of infrastructure.
A lack of competition
Only several airports in Russia have all the equipment and facilities needed to support business aircraft. With a clear lack of competition, this isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Instead, bizav operators face extremely high costs when it comes to ground-handling services, which further hinders the development of the sector.
“The main business aviation airport in Moscow is Vnukovo (VKO) and its prices are known to be very high compared to the handling rates of European FBOs and, in some cases, other Russian FBOs,” says Jetex Business Development Manager Mariya Vynohradova. “With no competitive alternative, the facility is monopolized by a single FBO operator.”
Vynohradova also notes that the current political crisis has put new strains on the industry. “Another problem is that the largest number of rotations between Moscow Airports have ties to the EU,” she says. “Due to a difficult political situation and international sanctions against some key Russian businessmen and politicians, future development of the country’s business aviation infrastructure remains unknown.”
Awareness of this lack of infrastructure is steadily growing, as can be seen in several measures aimed at improving the business environment. For instance, all Moscow airports, along with several regional airports, are currently working to adapt their services to the needs of international business aviation aircraft.
“The Russian business aviation market and its infrastructure – and Moscow airports in particular –remain the largest hub in Eastern Europe and CIS,” adds Vynohradova. “A lot of foreign-registered aircraft are based in Moscow and all key Moscow airports have their own FBO dedicated to business aviation flights, including very developed supplementary services such as catering, customs, limousine companies, etc.”
Further, a major improvement to the Russian market was implemented last year when the procedure for obtaining landing and overfly permits was simplified. This move has not only attracted even more traffic to Russian airports, it also ensures that more urgently ad-hoc charters get a chance at confirmation and operation
But the simplified procedure for obtaining permits is not the only improvement happening. There’s also the 2013 opening of a new business aviation center in Pulkovo Airport (LED) in 2013, the expansion of Sheremetevo (SVO) Complex’s services, as well as such future projects as a new business aviation center in Ramenskoye (Moscow region) and the complete renovation of Domodedovo (DME) Business Aviation Center.
On the whole, despite the political sanctions and the numerous problems the Russian business aviation market is facing, there are a lot of positive steps being taken in Russia to further support this important industry.