Flying by the voucher: how the Russian charter market is organized

Charters have been in the spotlight since the crash of the Kogalymavia plane in Egypt. Forbes studied the origins, development and crisis of that market. 
Origin source
"In the 1990s, from novice tour operators in Russia was not its aircraft or hotels - Tiberius Brown recalls, headed TUI representative in Russia. - There was only the human factor, initiative, ability to establish contacts. " Proximity to the airline then determines the success of the tour operator, adds CEO "Biblio Globus" Alexander Tugolukov. But since then, things have changed. From the redemption of blocks of seats on the aircraft on acquaintance with managers of airlines tour operators switched to the creation or acquisition of own carriers. "Kogalymavia", whose plane crashed Airbus A321 October 31 Egypt, too, has recently entered the tourist holding Brisco. Forbes watched as friendship evolved airlines and tour operators.
Dashing 1990

In the perception of some Russians charter - it is something cheap and terrible, the vice-president of Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) Dmitry Gorin. This attitude is due to the 90-mi years, when most airlines, charter flights, neglected service, flew with delays and transportation performed on older aircraft.

With the collapse ofUnion, the number of shipments in Russia was sharply decline. In 1990, the Soviet Union is the only airline "Aeroflot" served in Russia (excluding Soviet republics), 91 million people, in 1992 - already 62.6 million In 1999, all Russian airlines transported only 22.4 million passengers, and it was. the lowest figure in the modern history of civil aviation. But passenger traffic fell only on domestic routes, but on foreign ones, in contrast, grew at an unprecedented rate. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Russians sought abroad.

In 1992, passengers of international flights have become almost 4 million people, in 1996 - about 10 million people, and after a slight decrease in all subsequent time was to fly abroad, more and more people in crisis 1997-1999. The vast majority of appointments to overseas routes were the "Aeroflot". To get it was very difficult in the number of its agents. "In those days, it was important to be friends not only with the management, but also with middle managers to have access to places, to the booking system, - says a former employee of a major metropolitan travel agencies. - Noabout any bribes were not discussed. Represent benefits and discounts on tours, usually by the host country. " So there were major brokers - consolidators who buy seats on scheduled flights of airlines and tour operators to sell them.

One of the largest consolidators - the company "Inna-Tour". She managed to become an agent of "Aeroflot", providing airlines from 6 to 15% of revenue. "Biblio Globus" Tugolukova worked with "Domodedovo Airlines", "Krasnoyarsk Airlines" and other companies. In summer has its own specialty, every 2-3 developed areas: for example, Spain and France was decided to take the "Natalie Tours", and Cyprus - the "Biblio Globus". To get the preferential price of "Aeroflot" in Tunis and Paris, "Inna Tour" committed itself to load tourists empty and half-empty flights, for example, at night.

All other airlines wishing to fly abroad, were only charters - non-scheduled flights that are performed upon request. The company itself does not sell tickets to passengers on the flight, as the caseby carriers operating scheduled flights, and receives a fee for its implementation from the customer.

His birth Russian charters are obliged not tourism, and shop-tours. In August 1992, specifically for the "shuttle" the first Russian charter program was launched.

Travel agency "Spektr-Intour" together with the "Alak" airline made three trips to Cairo. In December, a travel agency with AJT airline launched a new charter chain in Sharjah (UAE). On the first day, more than 100 vouchers were sold out after the charter advertising. In December 1992, just before the New Year, he was made the first charter flight from Moscow to Hurghada. A "Spectrum-Intour" with the 235th Squadron in April 1993 (later - the airline "Russia") organized a charter program in Rimini and a half years, the statement was a monopoly in this area, as was NATO Rimini airport. In 1992, the company "grow light" launched in conjunction with the "Vnukovo Airlines' charter flights to Istanbul in 1993 Antalya was opened in 1995 - Dalaman, Algarve and Malaga, in 1996 - Reus Monastir, Bali and Phuket in 1997 - Liguria and Sardinia.

In the late 90-ies in the tourist market has appeared a lot of competition, leading to dumping. Giants tour operators turned subsequently collapse of many of them, said one of market participants. Tour operators for the first time faced with the loss of charter flights. The day was put on three aircraft in Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, tickets are sold on the bus, says Forbes interlocutor "was insane risk: having a load on one plane, tour operators bought back three flights, and then the" last minute "sold even at the checkout in the supermarket. " "Remember, as 15-20 years ago, planted in the charter? - Says Gorin. - People were flying in the old Soviet planes as necessary, sometimes even without beds. " But since then the market has changed and become civilized, he says.

"Transaero" Era

"Pleshakov calls on Saturday," takes a load daily flight to Turkey "And it should be a day to make a decision - whether or not we fly?" - Describes his relationship with the leadership of "Transaero" former Generatorscial director of travel company "Capital Tour" Inna Beltyukova. The answer is often followed by a positive: it was not customary to refuse Pleshakov.

His regular charter flights to Hurghada the next largest tourist carrier - "Transaero" - opened in 1995. The successes of the airline, established in 1991, graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute Alexander Pleshakov usually explained administrative resource: his mother Tatiana Anodina headed by the Interstate Aviation Committee and is friends with many Russian politicians. "The effect of family" extended to approximate tour operators - a kind of club of "Transaero" consisted of about a dozen of the largest tour operators of the country, "Tez Tour", "Natalie Tours", "Capital Tour", "Neva", "Ascent Travel", "East line "," Office "Southern Cross", "Lanta Tour Voyage" and others.

"Business was constructed as follows:" Transaero "takes a new aircraft, and the task of the tour operators of their ship, constantly increase the volume, run in new directions", - says Forbes employee travel company. ChlensTVO in the elite club promised discounts and leading positions: tour operators "punched" any direction at his own expense, for example in Australia, and in return receive exclusive prices for Tunisia.

The appetites of the "Transaero" is constantly growing. "Tour operators gain a competitive advantage and low prices, but also and become hostages of this cooperation, - says Tatiana Dimitrov, chief editor and publisher of« Hotline.Travel magazine. " - "Transaero" unduly dispersed volumes, tour operators with their obligations not cope. " Experts are often accused of "Transaero" in "bringing to the bankruptcy of tour operators" (of the last - "Capital Tour", "Lanta-Tour Voyage", "Southern Cross").
Manual "Transaero" is not going to compromise with tour operators when demand falls, the airline could not quickly reduce transportation, explains one of the market participants.

For example, the "Capital Tour" the indebtedness before the air carrier. "We scored before the season flights, but the Dominican Republic could only sell for $ 500, and" Transaero "we paid for it for $ 1,000," - says Inna Beltyukova. And when she was asked to cut the program was rejected.

Those who did not maintain the rhythm changed, "Transaero" has become a "pull" flying out of their partners and directly distribute their subagents. One of the sub-agents "Capital Tour" - the company "Biblio-Globus" - until recently provided 40% of the traffic "Transaero", says one of the interlocutors Forbes. And here at Beltyukova and Pleshakov relationship soured. Asked about the reasons for parting with the "Capital" CEO Olga Pleshakova Airlines in October 2010, just he told the press: "This is insolvent tour operator."

His wings

Over time, "Transaero" struck the monopoly of "Aeroflot" on regular flights. But to get permission for the charter flight is still much easier than be assigned a regular carrier on any foreign route. Many regional airlines combined regular flights inside the country with charter - commissioned by the tour operators. thatreceived "Krasnoyarsk airlines", "Siberia", "Orenburg airlines" and others. Most regional carriers operate so today. But in the early 2000s began to appear only charter airline. The first - "VIM-Avia".

After air crisis caused by the September 11 attacks, a large number of Airbus and Boeing aircraft appeared in the secondary market. "VIM-Avia" and invited to take advantage of the tour operator just 12, a Boeing 757 with a capacity of up to 235 passengers. In just three years, it has become a major player in the tourism market with passenger traffic of 1.5 million people. But it played a large volume of business with this airline cruel joke: worth at least one plane damaged by a charter schedule around the "VIM-Avia" began rolling flight delays. Largely thanks to the charter flights have been increasingly associated with many hours of delays and broken rest.

Leading airlines - "Aeroflot", "Transaero", "Siberia» (S7 Airlines brand) - began to abandon the charter, translating them into the category of regular reysov. To work in the tourist market S7 Group wishes in 2008 to create a separate charter airline - "Globus". But the charter "Globus" and did not: at the time of the creation of its airline business model is changed, so that now the group S7 99% of flights - scheduled, explains a company representative. But their own airlines began to create tour operators.

The "Pegas Touristik" in 2008 appeared Nord Wind (OOO "North Wind"), followed by another airline - Pegas Fly (OOO "Airline" Icarus "). Behind her tour operator "Tez Tour" I Fly established company. Later, his "wings" appeared in "Coral Travel" - the company Royal Flight, as well as in Anex Tourism Group - Azur Air ( «PFC" Katekavia "LLC).

The company "Kogalymavia" was not always the charter. Since its inception in 1993 and until 2012 she performed flights from Nizhnevartovsk and Surgut to Moscow, St. Petersburg and some other cities in Russia and the CIS, and also served as helicopter transportation for customers from the oil and gas industry. In 2012, "Kogalymavia", a partnership agreement with the Russian impliedSplitting of the German tour operator TUI (by this time the billionaire Alexei Mordashov 5 already owned a blocking stake in TUI to 25%), started operating charter flights under the brand Tui-Metrojet. However, the partnership did not last long. Two years later, the company severed relations and still dispute the claims of non-compliance with the commercial terms of partnership to each other in court.

A year before these events, in the summer of 2013, "Kogalymavia" was able to enlist the support of a new partner and become part of a major Turkish tourist holding TH & C, which belongs to the Russian tour operator Brisco. Perhaps claims TUI and the decision to break with the charter program "Kogalymavia" are connected with this partnership. Until October 31, the airline's fleet, there were ten aircraft - two Airbus A320 and eight Airbus A321, on which the company operates charter flights to Brisco order.

Russian charter airline belonging to the tourist companies, occupies a prominent place in the transport market.

At the end of 2014 Nord Wind, even among the ten largest carriers of the country, taking seventh place with a passzhiropotokom 4.5 million passengers and beating "Orenburg Airlines" belonging to "Aeroflot" group. "Icarus" flying under the brand Pegas Fly, transported 1.2 million passengers, "Kogalymavia» (MetroJet) - 1,3 million, I Fly - almost 1 million, Royal Flight - 624,400.

"Nothing new, we did not come up. Pay attention to the international experience. Own fleet is at TUI, Thomas Cook, - explains the general director of I Fly George Boutin. - This is a global trend: a classical tour has it all - airplanes, hotels, bus fleet. " It is more convenient, confirms Gorin: tour operators receive guarantees that their customers will be transported in time, and thus able to calculate the cost of transportation. Although private carrier can not provide 100% of tour operator needs, he gives him the optimal price, putting less profit. As a result, says the executive director ATOR Maya Lomidze, the tour operator saves 15-20% on bulk purchases.

Hard landing

tourist transportation market for more than 20 years grew and was attractive. In 2012, international passenger traffic for the first time outstripped internal Russian. but2014 due to the devaluation they equaled: 47 million people were passengers of international flights and almost the same number - domestic, from the data Rosaviation. And international traffic decreased sharply in 2015, 32 million in the first nine months, against 37.5 million last year.

Began in 2014, the crisis has led to a series of bankruptcies in the tourist market and the impact on airlines.

"The fall of the national currency led to a sharp decline in purchasing power and reduce the number of Russians traveling on holiday abroad. As a result, the charter business dipped by 40% ", - says the executive director of the agency" AviaPort "Oleg Panteleyev. The leader of the charter market - Nord Wind - passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2015 decreased almost doubled - to 2.2 million from 3.7 million for the same period a year earlier.

"Now seriously, and tour operators and airline business. We have to go to unpopular measures - says General Director of "Pegas Touristik" Anna Podgornaya. - And in 2016 the situation will not be easy. But we do not say that all is lost. We build our strategy to clozhivsheysya situation and are working on. " How can fight with the financial crisis, Russian Airlines flights to tourist destinations? According Panteleyev, recipes slightly - to reduce the number of flights in regions where demand for destinations decreased most notably, and to reduce the fleet. Most charter flights and regular companies making flights to tourist destinations, as well as received.

For example, "Transaero" has tried to shift from the tourist routes to domestic and NordWind refused on several planes, giving their lessors, and cut some staff.

But the bitter medicine helped not all. In the autumn of 2015 "Transaero" was in the verge of bankruptcy and ceased flights from October 26. Company "Aeroflot" group have already received 56 of its most attractive routes. It is possible that the fate of the "Transaero" and repeat the other carriers, who could not in time to reorient themselves to the changed conditions.

"Victims, those who failed to respond adequately to reducetourist traffic and began to get involved in dumping. The market situation is clearly not conducive to this type of players "- Panteleyev said.