Flights abroad will be a reward for flights in Russia

The interdepartmental commission under Rosaviatsia changed the algorithm for the temporary transfer of access to international flights from one carrier to another. Now the volume of intra-Russian transportation of applicant companies will be taken into account, the press service of the air regulator reported.

“The new edition of the temporary algorithm provides that the commission members will take into account the volume of transportation of applicant airlines on domestic air routes for the month preceding the month of the commission meeting,” the press service said. This decision was taken in order to fulfill the mandate of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to carry at least 100 million passengers by Russian airlines in 2022, according to a statement from Rosaviatsia.

A temporary algorithm was developed to improve transport accessibility and mobility of Russians during the period of sanctions. He will work until the restrictions against Russia are lifted, reports Rosaviatsia.

The previous algorithm for submitting applications for international destinations was adopted in March 2022 and updated in April. He took into account information about the total number of aircraft (aircraft) in the airline, about the number of its aircraft in the Russian register and owned by domestic individuals and legal entities. The regularity of flights in January 2022, December and November 2021, the number of operated domestic routes in the previous week, the total number of warnings and orders received by the airline were also taken into account.

Now carriers will continue to provide these data, but the primary criterion for making a decision on admissions will be the volume of traffic on domestic lines, according to the data of Rosaviatsia.

A sharp decrease in passenger traffic of Russian airlines began after the start of a special military operation (SVO) in Ukraine in February 2022. Then unfriendly countries (EU, USA, Canada and their satellites) closed their skies to Russian carriers. Domestic aviation authorities responded with mirror restrictions. In addition, 11 airports in the south of Russia have been closed for security reasons since the beginning of the SVO.

In January-February 2022, passenger traffic of Russian airlines grew by 38% in annual terms to 14.6 million people. But in March–May 2022, this figure decreased by 15% to 17 million people. In just five months, Russian airlines transported 31.6 million people, the Association of Air Transport Operators (AEVT) reported. This is 4.2% lower than in the same period a year earlier.

Similar data were provided by “Vedomosti” and the Ministry of Transport. According to the department, about 75% of the traffic fell on the largest Russian airlines – the Aeroflot group, which, in addition to the company of the same name, includes Rossiya and Pobeda, as well as S7, Ural Airlines and Yutair.

On March 31, at a meeting on the development of air transport and aviation industry, Putin instructed airlines to allocate 100 billion rubles. subsidies for compensating part of the cost of air tickets on domestic flights. This should contribute to the fulfillment by carriers of the government’s plan to carry 90 million passengers domestically and another 10 million on international routes in 2022. In 2021, Russian airlines transported 111 million people, of which 87.5 million were domestic.

Rosaviatsia has already distributed subsidies among carriers, half of which will go to Aeroflot. Payments to airlines will begin already in July, but for this it is necessary to fulfill forecast indicators for transportation, the regulator noted. In the event that the carrier does not reach 80% of the declared indicator of domestic transportation, “the subsidy shall be returned to the federal budget”, it follows from the government’s decision, which approved the rules for providing the funds. If this volume is not fulfilled by an airline belonging to the group, but the other carriers reach the required volume, the subsidy is retained.

Rosaviatsia did not publish data on air passenger transportation for the first half of the year. But Vitaly Saveliev, the head of the Ministry of Transport, said that the decrease in this indicator amounted to 9% in annual terms. Thus, domestic airlines transported about 40 million people during this period.

According to the data of Rosaviatsia on July 20, in order to fulfill the plan for transportation within the country, domestic air carriers continue advertising sales and work on expanding the geography of flights. According to the department, the measures taken by the airlines will allow to fulfill the target indicators for transportation in July 2022.

“Vedomosti” source, close to the air regulator, explains that the change in the rules for the admission of operators to international destinations is intended to maximally stimulate flights within the country in order for airlines to fulfill their stated plans and receive subsidies. The interlocutor admits that now it is very difficult to achieve these goals, especially because of the remaining restrictions on flights to southern airports.

A representative of Ural Airlines declined to comment. Rosaviatsia and other airlines did not respond to Vedomosti’s questions.

The editor-in-chief of the Avia.ru portal, Roman Husarov, considers the new scheme for obtaining permission to fly abroad “fairer” than the previous one. “International transportation has always been more profitable, it is logical to support those who are actively developing the domestic route network,” the expert says. He believes that the new rules cannot be called stimulating, it is a “bonus for those airlines that actively fly in Russia.” According to Husarov, priority in this will be given to large companies – Aeroflot Group, S7, Ural Airlines, and Yutair.

HSE expert Fedor Borisov believes that the new measure of admission to international transportation is essentially designed to stimulate domestic growth. But, according to the expert, this approach does not take into account the specifics of each airline and will not contribute to increasing the share of transportation across the country. “It is necessary to remember that the volume of international air traffic of 10 million passengers also needs to be fulfilled”, Borisov emphasizes. The expert adds that the adopted measures will contribute to the dominance of large airlines, which will create competition problems.

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