Aeroflot changes its course and flies to Moscow

The carrier can change the development strategy.
"Aeroflot" is changing the scheme for building a route network - the company wants to develop flights, bypassing Moscow. In autumn, the board of directors of the carrier will consider an updated strategy in which hub regional airports will be identified. The issue gained relevance against the backdrop of calls by Vladimir Putin and requests from airport holdings to develop interregional flights (now 75% of flights are performed through the capital) with the prospect of getting benefits. Experts restrainedly assess the idea of ​​Aeroflot, noting that so far such attempts have failed, and the new plan may incur high risks for the carrier's basic multi-brand strategy.

Aeroflot, which operates flights only from the Sheremetyevo base airport, is discussing the possibility of creating hubs in the regions, said the general director of the carrier Vitaly Saveliev at the annual meeting of its shareholders. The top manager voiced the idea, answering the question of one of the shareholders about the carrier's plans in the regions "taking into account the rapid growth of the park and the limited capabilities of Sheremetyevo." The top manager specified that the company "was on the fork". On the one hand, the Sheremetyevo terminals under construction will allow servicing 80 million people a year and Aeroflot will have to fill these capacities so that they do not get to competitors. On the other hand, there is a new strategy for building hub airports, Mr. Saveliev noted, refusing to disclose the details.

The discussion about the development of regional transport, bypassing Moscow, was first brought to the level of the government by the owner of the Renova group Viktor Vekselberg. A year ago, in a letter to Vladimir Putin (see "Kommersant" on March 27, 2017), the group asked for the support of its holding "Airports of Regions" by differentiating VAT for regional flights through Moscow and directly bypassing the capital, encouraging carriers to fly more in the regions.

Now 75% of flights are performed through Moscow, including because of Aeroflot's "refusal" in 2016 to develop hubs in airports in St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don "in order to" fully concentrate efforts on the Moscow hub ", then wrote Mr. Vekselberg. In March 2016, on the basis of the airline "Russia" (part of the Aeroflot group), Donavia and Orenburg Airlines were consolidated. As a result, the number of flights from the base for these companies in Rostov-on-Don and Orenburg decreased.

Vladimir Putin spoke about the importance of developing interregional air transportation without landing in Moscow. In March, in an annual message to the Federal Assembly, the president said that in six years, half of the inter-regional flights would be carried out directly, and the situation when the neighboring region needs to fly through Moscow "will largely remain in the past." According to the Center for Strategic Research, one of the conditions for the growth of air transportation is the maintenance and development of airfield infrastructure. The CSR calculated that the reconstruction of 66 airfields until 2024 will require more than 230 billion rubles. budget investments.

Sources "Kommersant" in the industry note that in the Russian market the hub model outside of Moscow has so far managed to develop only S7.
In 2017, the carrier significantly expanded the network from the Novosibirsk airport Tolmachevo, opening several dozens of destinations in the regions and Asia. The possibility of expanding the program of flights is connected with the acquisition by the company of a new type of aircraft Embraer 170-LR.

The head of Infomost Boris Rybak notes that it is very difficult to create a workable multi-mode model. If it is impossible to work out a management system, the airline can face serious financial losses. Aeroflot, the expert said, has already tried to do something similar, having bought in 2010, "Russia", "Donavia" and "Orenburg Airlines" from Rostekh. But in the end he refused this idea in favor of a multi-brand platform for different target audiences. Mr. Rybak believes that in order to achieve strategic goals, the group should follow the chosen path. The expert also does not consider the possible creation of a regional carrier for a new model an effective solution.