Air traffic

Russia’s Transport Ministry sees sharp drop in air traffic by 2025

Russia’s airline industry will see a 24-48% decline in passenger traffic over the next four years and, at best, restore traffic to 2021 levels no earlier than 2030, according to a grim prognosis in a draft report recently published by the Russian ministry. For transport.

The document, titled Comprehensive program for the development of the air transport industry until 2030, follows a government meeting in the Kremlin on March 31 devoted to the prospects of the local air transport and aircraft manufacturing industries. At the event, Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged his bureaucrats to develop a package of measures to support the national air transport system despite tough economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the United States and the Union. Union (EU) as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine.

In response, the Ministry of Transport suggests allocating 331.4 billion rubles ($5 billion) by 2025 and another 296 billion rubles by 2030. The total includes 100 billion rubles for operations support passengers by airlines and airports, plus 29.3 billion rubles in subsidies for passengers. transport between the European and Far Eastern territories of the country and, finally, 32 billion rubles for the purchase of flight simulators and training aircraft.

The Kremlin is considering the allocations necessary to keep the national air transport system functioning even if economic sanctions lead to the grounding of many imported planes.

The calculations assume that relations between Moscow and the West will remain cold. As a result, local carriers will find it difficult to fly their Airbus and Boeing jetliners. Aircraft manufacturers in the US and EU and their authorized maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centers are unlikely to provide any significant support to aircraft exported to Russia.

The ministry advises airlines to adjust their business models accordingly and, together with local manufacturers and MRO specialists, to keep their fleets intact without Western involvement.

According to the ministry, the Russian civilian fleet now consists of 1,287 passenger, cargo and general aviation aircraft, of which 1,140 are in the national register. They include 470 aircraft made in Russia and the former Soviet bloc, mostly small-capacity commuters and regional turboprops.

Other open sources estimate the number of passenger aircraft with 50 seats and more at 714 at the end of 2021, including nearly 300 Airbus, 236 Boeing, 23 Embraer and several Bombardier CRJ100/200 aircraft, plus 136 Russian-designed Irkut SSJ100, which carry many western components. Together, they generate more than 90% of the country’s passenger traffic.

The report’s authors base their assumptions on a forecast that operators will cannibalize about a third of the current Airbus and Boeing fleet for parts to keep the rest flying. The national fleet of imported aircraft will drop to 427 in 2025 and as a result traffic will drop to 76.3 million passengers. In 2030, only 208 foreign jets will remain operational, according to the report, but traffic could return to pre-crisis levels thanks to a surge in shipments of local designs.

Besides this assumption, the editors also propose a “pessimistic scenario” in which airlines dismantle half of the airliners imported for parts by 2025 if they cannot find a way to source spare parts from the outside world. Worse still, the domestic industry will seem unable to reverse engineer the necessary items and produce them at home. As a result, the foreign airliner fleet will drop to 298 by 2025 (and almost nothing by 2030) and traffic will drop to 58.2 million passengers.

The Ministry of Transport hopes that by 2030, local manufacturers will manage to assemble 1,000 new passenger planes of all classes. In this case, the national fleet will increase from 870 to 999 aircraft in 2025 to 1,556 to 1,600 in 2030.