Moscow Sheremetyevo Sees 150% Passenger Increase In July

Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport has cemented its place as one of Europe’s best-performing airports this year. The airport has released data showing it handled 3.633 million passengers in July, a 149.1% increase on July 2020. So far this year, Sheremetyevo (SVO) has handled just over 15 million passengers.

Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport has handled over 15 million passengers so far in 2021. Photo: Getty Images

Sheremetyevo handles over 15 million passengers in 2021

According to the airport, in the seven months to July 31, 3.521 million passengers arrived or departed on international flights, and 11.48 million passengers arrived or departed on domestic flights. While this is a 33.6% improvement in passenger numbers for the same period last year, it is around 36% down on 2019 passenger levels.

Judged on passenger numbers, Sheremetyevo is Moscow’s busiest airport, edging out Domodedovo (DME). According to the airline industry database ch-aviation, 27 airlines fly to 209 destinations in 71 countries from SVO.

In the seven months to the end of July, Sheremetyevo says Aeroflot, Rossiya, Nordwind Airlines, Ikar, Pobeda, Royal Flight, and Severstal brought in the largest volume of passenger traffic. In the same period, there were 124,484 takeoff and landing operations.

Sheremetyevo serves as the main hub for Russian flag carrier Aeroflot. In terms of flight numbers, Aeroflot ranks 14th in the world over August. According to OAG, the airline is flying 26,734 flights this month. That is down 18.7% on August 2019 flying levels but up on July 2021. Aeroflot has been making sizable month-on-month gains since April and is now regularly appearing in the ranks of the world’s busiest airlines.

Aeroflot is helping bolster Sheremetyevo’s strong performance. Photo: Getty Images

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A competitive battle with Istanbul Airport

Aeroflot is one factor behind Sheremetyevo’s claim to be one of the best-performing airports in Europe this year. According to the Anker Report’s European Airport Traffic Statistics (EATS), only Istanbul Airport (IST) is bettering Sheremetyevo’s raw passenger numbers this year. EATS data currently only runs to June 30. But in the six months to June 30, 12,215,049 passengers moved through IST compared to the 11,245,318 passengers who moved through SVO. Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport took the third spot.

For the month of June, SVO bested Istanbul Airport by 140,000 passengers. Sheremetyevo handled 2.94 million passengers against IST’s 2.80 million passengers.

The Russia – Turkey country pair has been one of the strongest country pairs this year in terms of seat availability. In August, airlines are offering 1,410,234 seats on flights between the two countries. The most popular international destinations for Sheremetyevo’s passengers in the seven months to July 31 were Antalya and Istanbul. Tailing those two Turkish cities was Yerevan, Male, and Bishkek. In July, OAG noted significant month-on-month increases in traffic between Russia and Turkey.

Moscow Airport COVID
Russian travelers have kept flying throughout 2021. Photo: Getty Images

Has Sheremetyevo peaked?

While much of Western Europe’s airports spent most of 2021 experiencing subdued passenger numbers, things may be changing. For most of 2021, Russian and Turkish airports have headed the passenger traffic rankings. But there are some signs of life further west.

Carriers in Western Europe are offering 76,771,527 seats in August, up 11.7% on July. It is a month-on-month growth rate only bested by South Asia and Southern Africa. In contrast, seat availability only grew by 5.7% in August across Central and Eastern Europe. While passenger and aircraft traffic is still down on 2019 levels, the continuing vaccination rollouts across much of Europe and some easing of border restrictions are stimulating demand.

Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport is having its day in the sun. But the early indicators are some of its Western European competitor airports are reviving and may start giving SVO a run for its money as the year unfolds.