The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the passenger traffic of Russian airlines – in May the number of passengers was down 91.3 per cent compared to the same month last year, according to the latest data reported by Russia’s aviation authority Rosaviatsiya, Russian Aviation Insider reported.
Combined, the country’s carriers served just 949,000 passengers. Of the total number, 923,000 passengers traveled domestically (down 84.5 per cent year-on-year), the remaining 26,000 returned to Russia on repatriation charter flights, which amounts to just five per cent of international traffic in May 2019.
In the group of five largest airlines, S7 Airlines has retained its leadership position for the second month in a row, with 281,000 passengers transported (down 75.7 per cent year-on-year), ahead of Aeroflot, which lost 93.1 per cent of its May 2019 traffic and carried just 206,300 passengers. Aeroflot’s subsidiary Rossiya Airlines experienced similar decline of 92.6 per cent, to 74,300 passengers. The fourth on the list, Utair, served 67,000 passengers (down 90.3 per cent), and Ural Airlines closes the ranking with 41,700 passengers (down 94.9 per cent).
In the first five months of the year the collective traffic of Russian airlines declined 44.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, to roughly 25 million passengers. On domestic routes the number of passengers decreased by 38.1 per cent to 16.3 million passengers, whilst international traffic plunged by 53.7 per cent to 8.7 million passengers.
Russia closed its borders and suspended all air connections with other countries on March 27 due to the spread of coronavirus. Transport ministry is now hoping to be able to resume some international air travel in July, after restrictions were somewhat loosened in June to allow Russians to cross borders for work, study, medical treatment or taking care of relatives.
According to some industry sources, Russian government may try to take advantage of the situation to reenergize domestic tourism and will not rush to reopen international travel. Head of Rosaviatsiya Alexander Neradko suggested to lift restrictions off air travel within the CIS first, whilst international routes would be resumed on a case by case basis depending on the epidemiological situation.