Russian airlines: the year 2013 in retrospect

Wondering how the Russian airline industry has been doing lately?

According to data made public by Russian portal aex.ru, quoting information from the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (that, however, as I write this post, is still showing data up to last November only), Russian airlines carried a total of 84,564,353 passengers last year, a healthy 14,2% increase over the previous year!

And who is in the roll of honour of airlines?

In case you were wondering, here is the top 5 of the Russian airline industry:

1) AEROFLOT

Pole position goes to flag carrier Aeroflot, of course, with 20,902,447 passengers (+18.4% up). Picture: Aeroflot

Pole position goes to flag carrier Aeroflot, of course, with 20,902,447 passengers (+18.4% up). Picture: Aeroflot

Transaero was second with 12,499,985 passengers, an increase of 21%

Transaero was second with 12,499,985 passengers, an increase of 21%

UTair, an airline that has been busy expanding and renovating its fleet was third with 8,182,074 passengers (+5.3%). Picture: UTair

UTair, an airline that has been busy expanding and renovating its fleet was third with 8,182,074 passengers (+5.3%). Picture: UTair

Sibir, also known as S7, and member of the Oneworld Alliance was Russia's fourth in the ranking of Russian airlines by number of passengers with 7,084,599 (+11.6%)

Sibir, also known as S7, and member of the Oneworld Alliance was Russia's fourth in the ranking of Russian airlines by number of passengers with 7,084,599 (+11.6%)

Rossiya (an Aeroflot subsidiary) was 5th, the St.Petersburg-based airline carried 4,590,146 passengers, up 9.1% over the previous year. Picture: Wikipedia

Rossiya (an Aeroflot subsidiary) was 5th, the St.Petersburg-based airline carried 4,590,146 passengers, up 9.1% over the previous year. Picture: Wikipedia

What's in store for 2014?

It remains to be seen whether the Russian airline industry can continue to sustain this double-digit rate of growth in view of the current perceived stagnation of the domestic economy. 

Another factor to take into account is the launch of low cost airlines in the Russian market, if all goes according to plan Aeroflot's low cost airline, Dobrolet, should be getting in the top five in due time, but most likely not this year as it still has to start operations.

In any case, even if Ryanair, Easyjet and, maybe, Wizzair, are starting operations in Russia, these are likely to be at a small scale in the short to medium term, so it is unlikely it will affect traffic figures for the incumbent airlines.

At the other end of the country, the merger of Aeroflot's Far Eastern subsidiaries to form Aurora Airlines is also unlikely to affect this ranking as their goal of carrying 2.4M annual passengers would placee them well below Rossiya in volume of passengers.