Passenger Traffic in Russia Continues to Recover
Preliminary passenger numbers were released on Monday, 15 March 2021, by the Russian aviation authority, Federal Air Transport Agency- Rosaviatsia. The numbers were collected for February 2021. Given recent incidences, there is still a gap from 2020 levels, a 37% decrease year-on-year. On a positive note, however, there is hope for a strong trend towards recovery.
As of December 2020, the decline was recorded at 43%. With national New Year holidays, Russian aviation typically records high traffic, and in January 2021, the decline was at 38%. Many experts in the aviation sector might not see one percent gained as a big deal in normal circumstances. However, as the world tries to adjust to the pandemic’s challenges, any continuous positive trend is enough to make stakeholders optimistic.
The numbers also indicate a slight rise in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), to 51% in February from 53% less recorded in January, with a total of 10.22 billion for the second month of the year. Siberian private airline S7 took the lead with 1.06 million passengers in February. This marks the tenth month in a row that the airline has maintained its lead, even though they are down 15% since last year.
However, Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda, may also be considered one of the month’s biggest winners. Rosaviatsia’s news service reports that Pobeda’s RPK got a 3% increase in comparison to the same period in 2020. Meanwhile, its parent carrier Aeroflot served less than a million passengers, a 60% drop from the previous years. Following an announcement of a $1.3 billion loss recorded in 2020, the carrier is now diversifying with more focus on being a long-haul and premium route carrier.
Before now, domestic travel had already recovered. Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, domestic traffic in Russia almost made a complete recovery as at the end of August last year. With international travel still restricted in many countries, many Russians had to spend their holidays closer to home. At the time, the Aeroflot Group carried 3.6 million passengers, which was 0.4% less than 2019 numbers.