Russian Airlines on Expansion Course

Increasing passenger numbers and rising cargo volumes during the last couple of months encouraged a number of Russian carriers to raise their heads above the parapet and enlarge their networks again. Moscow’s Federal Air Transport Agency, acronym Rosaviatsiya, has confirms the new growth trend.
Meanwhile, cargo carrier Sky Gates has announced a doubling  of its fleet.


The worst seems to be over for most Russian carriers. Their situation is seemingly improving again, evidenced by latest traffic data. This way ending a slump caused by the economic embargo imposed by western countries following the Kremlin’s illegal Crimea occupation and Moscow’s support of the hybrid war in the eastern parts of the Ukraine. A conflict that culminated in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines operated Boeing 777 by a BUK missile, killing all 298 people on board last September.
Shoulder to shoulder with China
Despite ongoing political strife in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and Russia’s continuing international isolation the country’s aviation sector is on the advance again. This was illustrated by the path breaking deal signed last week between Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and Chinese aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC), kicking off a joint venture in Shanghai for manufacturing a long-range aircraft capable of carrying 280 passengers over a distance of 12,000 kilometers.
If all goes well, the craft shall take to the air in 2025. 

Russian carrier VIM Avia plans transatlantic flights, increases fleet. Pictured here is an A330  -  credit VIM
Russian carrier VIM Avia plans transatlantic flights, increases fleet. Pictured here is an A330 - credit VIM

Redistribution of routes
Widely unnoticed by a broader public but as important as the UAC-COMAC accord is the steep rise in demand for air transportation, encouraging carriers to launch new routes, up frequencies on existing sectors or announce flights to China, the U.S., Dubai and to some European countries. Many routes are still vacant as consequence of Transaero Airlines’ bankruptcy in October 2015, argues Elisaveta Kusnetzova in her report published by Russian daily Kommersant. The national regulator Rosaviatsia, is now redistributing the former Transaero routes, granting them applicants that qualify financially and operationally. 
For instance carrier VIM-Avia that expands its fleet as passenger numbers grow. While the Moscow Vnukovo Airport-based carrier concentrated on charter traffic so far, it taps into scheduled services now, applying for rights to start flying to the U.S.

Nidjat Babayev, Senior VP Sky Gates  -  company courtesy
Nidjat Babayev, Senior VP Sky Gates - company courtesy

Aeroflot also intends upping services from Moscow to Budapest, Minsk, Heraklion and Dubai.
Krasnoyarsk, Siberia-based carrier Icarus got the green light for launching scheduled flights from Moscow Zhukovsky (IATA: ZIA) to Nanchang, Chongqing, Chengdu and Haikou in China. Plans to link Chinese cities with Liege in Belgium via Moscow and St. Petersburg stand on their list.
Kommersant quotes Boris Rybak, head of aviation consultancy firm Infomost as saying that the upswing of Russian airlines, spurring passenger and cargo transports, will create a new competitive environment in Russian aviation. 


Cargo carrier Sky Gates adds second Jumbo freighter to its fleet
While Rybak issued this statement, cargo carrier Sky Gates announced adding a second Boeing 747-400 freighter to its fleet by mid-June. It’s an ex Cathay Pacific aircraft, currently operated by Sky Gate’s Azeri partner Silkway West Airlines.
The Moscow-based newcomer is even looking further ahead. “After having received our second aircraft, the planning for a third B-400F freighter will immediately start,” announces Nidjat Babayev, Senior Vice President of Sky Gates.
Sky Gates Cargo Airlines that first took to the air in autumn of 2016 is a Russian all-cargo airline with its European Hub in Maastricht, Netherlands serving Moscow and Novosibirsk on scheduled bases en route to/from the Far East.
Heiner Siegmund

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