Ekaterinburg based Ural Airlines has decided on switching the origin of its Moscow to London Stansted (STN) flights.
Instead of planes departing Moscow to London from Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA) as was originally planned, the Russian airline has decided to switch the departure airport to Domodedovo Moscow Airport (DME).
Scheduled to commence service on the 20th of December the four weekly flights will use one of Ural Airlines 24 156-seat Airbus A320s. Prior to the announcement carried by CH-Aviation, it was assumed that Ural Airlines would deploy one of its two new A320neos on the flagship route.
Ural Airlines is only the second Russian airline to fly to London
With the new flight to Stansted, Ural Airlines will become the second Russian airline allowed to fly the 1,339 nautical miles (2,480 kilometers) route.
The new flight from Moscow to London is in line with the existing bilateral agreement between Russia and the United Kingdom that only allows two airlines from each country to fly UK-Russia routes.
During this winter season, Ural Airlines will also introduce flights to Larnaca, Cyprus, Rimini, Italy, Venice, Italy, Bordeaux, France, Munich, Germany and Barcelona, Spain.
Ural Airlines will now be joining Aeroflot, British Airways and Wizz Air as the only airlines that fly between the two capital cities.
British Airways, Aeroflot and Wizz Air all fly to Moscow from the UK
At the moment Russian national flag carrier Aeroflot offers 32 weekly flights between Sheremetyevo – A.S. Pushkin international airport (SVO) and London Heathrow (LHR).
British Airways serves the Russian capital with 17 flights a week from Heathrow to Domodedovo Moscow Airport (DME).
A newcomer to the London to Moscow flight scene is Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air who just recently started a daily service between London, Luton (LTN) and Moscow Vnukovo International Airport (VKO).
Before Wizz Air entered the fray Luton based easyJet flew to Moscow from London Gatwick Airport (LGW) and Manchester Airport (MAN) but threw the towel in after just two years.
easyJet blamed the Russian economy and visa process
Blaming the weakness of the Russian economy and Vladimir Putin’s tightening of the Russian visa process as to the reasons why it could not make the route profitable. Getting a visa to visit Russia is a complicated process with everyone over the age of 12 needing to have their fingerprints taken at one of three centers in London, Edinburgh or Manchester.
Despite all the red tape and a still underperforming economy Wizz Air who just started their flights from Luton to Moscow this month are confident they can make money on the route.
The UK’s Independent Newspaper tracked down Wizz Air boss Owain Jones while he was holidaying in Crete and asked him how he thought he was going to make flights to Russia work after easyJet had failed.
He answered that plenty of people wanted to fly between Moscow and Western Europe’s biggest city London telling the Independent:
“There are significant traffic flows that go to London but which use indirect routes.”
What he meant by that is that passengers are put off by the high fares British Airways and Aeroflot charge for their non-stop flights. Because of the high fares, passengers often opt to travel through Vienna, Munich or Helsinki to save money.
“Wizz is an extremely rational airline,” Mr. Jones said before heading back to the beach.
“We are not going to start flying unless we are sure we will make a profit.”
It will be interesting to see what Ural Airlines decides to charge for a round-trip Moscow-London ticket. Will they try and match Wizz Air’s low prices or stick with a higher fare like British Airways and Aeroflot?