The number of business aviation movements in Russia has grown more than threefold over the past seven years, from 50,000 in 2005 to the expected 160,000 for all of 2012. These figures were quoted by Valery Ochirov, President of the Russian United Business Aviation Association (RUBAA), at the opening of the JetExpo 2012 exhibition in Moscow this September.
Foreign bizav manufacturers also note the continuing development of the Russian market. According to the latest Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) research, Russia features in four of the top 10 country pairs for the highest 2011 growth rate in business flights across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Flights between Russia and Latvia top the list with 475% growth last year, followed by bizav operations between Russia and the Middle East (up 122.2%). Business flights between Russia and the UK grew by 14% in 2011, coming seventh in the HBC rating and followed by Russia-Switzerland operations (up 13.3%). "Russia undoubtedly remains one of the fastest growing and most interesting markets," says Sean McGeough, HBC president, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. "Its recent accession of the WTO will contribute to the liberalization of Russia’s trade relations with other countries, stimulating its economy and potentially prompting further growth in demand for business aviation services."
The Russian bizav fleet has been growing steadily in the past few years. The HBC study says 82 business aircraft were delivered to this country from 2007 to 2011, or 110% more than in 2002-06. Market forecasts are also optimistic: according to the JetExpo organizers, 525 business jets will be brought into Russia and the CIS by the year 2020, to be followed by a further 1,016 between 2021 and 2030. This will bring the total regional bizav fleet up to 1,700 units by the year 2030; by that time, the global business aviation fleet will have reached 30,000 aircraft.
At present, according to the JetExpo study, there are 158 business aircraft registered in Russia. The overall number of Russian-owned airframes exceeds 400, meaning that about two-thirds of Russian owners prefer to have their aircraft registered abroad. There are several reasons for this, including financial considerations such as high customs duty, expensive insurance, etc., and also owners? reluctance to own up to their ownership of a business jet.
A total of 83% of Russian-registered business jets are owned by business and charter operators, or by large businesses that purchase aircraft for corporate needs. Only 17% are operated in the interests of private owners.
Corporations prefer high-capacity aircraft such as the Dassault Falcon 900 and the Gulfstream 450/550; these are typically operated to a fixed schedule on a number of pre-defined routes to meet the business travel needs of the top management. Businesspeople choose smaller models, such as the Cessna Citation, which present a more affordable charter option, whereas private owners go for the Embraer Legacy 600, to be used in personal travel.
Business charter services have recently been growing in popularity in Russia, the JetExpo study indicates. Although a charter is 40-45% typically more expensive than a first-class airline ticket, the cost of flying a group of six to eight people on a short-distance route (for example, between Moscow and St. Petersburg) proves to be cheaper than buying them first- or even business-class seats on a scheduled carrier. Charter flights are priced per flight hour, are independent of airline timetables, and can operate non-stop to the desired destination, the JetExpo study points out.
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