Russian Aviation Had A Fantastic 2019 – Here’s Why

Rosaviatsiya, the Russian government agency that oversees civil aviation, reported that Russian airlines collectively served 10.2% more passengers in 2019 than in 2018. At the same time, Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi appears to be making a comeback with European airline Air Serbia currently in talks about placing an order for its Superjet 100 aircraft.

s7 Aeroflot
S7 and Aeroflot are the biggest airlines in Russia, and they both saw passenger growth in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

The biggest airlines all had impressive growth

The five biggest airlines in Russia by passenger numbers are Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Rossiya, Ural Airlines and Pobeda, according to Russian Aviation Insider. All five have registered impressive growth in 2019. They, and other Russian airlines, served a total of 130 million passengers.

Aeroflot carried 37.2 million passengers in 2019, up 4.1% compared to 2018. Russia’s biggest airline has even more reasons to celebrate the year just gone, as it recently topped the list of airlines ranked on on-time performance in 2019.

The second biggest in the country is S7, an airline that Simple Flying recently took a look at. S7 is privately owned, and rivals Aeroflot: it is a oneworld member, while Aeroflot is in SkyTeam. S7 recorded an impressive 21% growth in 2019, carrying 14 million passengers.

The third biggest airline is Rossiya Airlines: 75% owned by Aeroflot and boasting a surprisingly good business class. Rossiya recorded growth of 4% and served 11.6 million passengers.

Fourth is Ural Airlines, which saw traffic growth of 7% for passenger numbers of 9.6 million. Lastly, Pobeda (another Aeroflot subsidiary) saw the most impressive growth at 43%, which raised its passenger numbers to almost 9.6 million as well.

Aeroflot, Brussels Airlines, Codeshare
Aeroflot recorded 4.1% growth in passenger traffic – and it is still by far the biggest airline in Russia. Photo: Tom Boon, Simple Flying

Competition in Russia is growing

We described Pobeda as an unknown low-cost airline in 2018. At the time, the airline was rapidly expanding by launching new routes and acquiring new aircraft. That expansion has now yielded the impressive 43% growth in passenger numbers in 2019, and this is set to continue.

Meanwhile, Wizz Air has also launched its first flights to Russia in October 2019. Flights are operated daily with an Airbus A321, from London Luton to St Petersburg and Moscow’s Vnukovo.

azimuth airlines sukhoi
Azimuth Airlines could be considered the biggest success story of 2019 in Russia. Photo: Dmitry Terekhov via Flickr.

Is Azimuth the biggest success story of 2019?

Aside from the five biggest Russian airlines growing at fairly impressive rates, another airline in the country achieved a significant result in 2019.

Azimuth Airlines is a Russian regional airline with bases in Krasnodar and Rostov-on-Don. In 2019 it reached a profit for the first time, and it did so with a Sukhoi-only fleet. Azimuth is the only airline in the world to have a fleet comprised only of SSJ aircraft.

This is particularly significant news for Russian aviation, as it serves as an indicator that Sukhoi aircraft might finally be achieving an adequate reliability performance. This might make them a potential alternative to Airbus or Boeing narrowbodies in the future.

All in all, with double-digit passenger growth and an increasingly successful domestic aircraft manufacturing industry, aviation in Russia has reasons to celebrate the year just gone.

Do you think passenger traffic numbers will continue to grow in double digits in Russia next year? Let us know in the comments below.