Aeroflot and S7 Airlines have stopped selling tickets for flights to Saratov since October 27, when the airlines switch to the winter schedule - there are no tickets in booking systems. And the last Rusline flight to Saratov, judging by the carrier’s website, is scheduled for September 13th. At the same time, these airlines sell tickets for flights to other cities for several months in advance.
Until August 20, the old Tsentralny airport is open and accepts Aeroflot, S7, Pegas Fly, Nordwind Airlines and Rusline flights. Since August 18, the new Gagarin Airport has been launched; it has accepted the first - test - passenger flight. "Gagarin" was built from scratch by the holding "Airports of the Regions" by Viktor Vekselberg. The first on the new runway was the Boeing 737 of Pobeda Airlines, the first scheduled flight to Gagarin will also be performed by Pobeda on August 20.
The construction of Gagarin began in 2017. Vekselberg Holding invested 8.2 billion rubles in it. The new airport is located 20 km from Saratov. After its opening, "Central" will be closed. “Gagarin” is designed for 1 million passengers a year, the general director of “Airports of the Regions” Evgeny Chudnovsky hopes to reach this figure in 2021. In 2018, only 426,000 people received the old Saratov airport.
Aeroflot will keep flights to Gagarin in the winter schedule. “It’s just because of the change of airport that they haven’t managed to load the capacities exhibited in Gagarin into the reservation system,” says a representative of Aeroflot. The company used to make six flights to Saratov on a Sukhoi SuperJet 100 with a capacity of 87 passengers, now there will be two flights - on an Airbus A320 with a capacity of 158 passengers (from September flights will operate on both Airbus and Sukhoi SuperJet), according to information on the Aeroflot website . As a result, the airline’s transportation capacity to Saratov decreased from 522 passengers to 316 passengers per day.
The representative of Rusline did not respond to a request from Vedomosti. In September, S7 reduces the number of flights to Saratov from four to two per day, and closes the sale from the winter schedule, its representative said: this is due to the high tariffs in Gagarin compared to the “Central” one.
Judging by its website, servicing aircraft at the new airport is several times more expensive than at the Central Airport. The take-off and landing fee increased from 305 to 1010 rubles. per ton of the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft. The fee for ensuring aviation security - from 315 to 921 rubles. per ton. The provision of the airport complex at the old airport cost 33 rubles. per passenger of both domestic and international lines. The new fee is 155 rubles. per passenger of domestic lines and 224 rubles. - international. The tariff for servicing one passenger on domestic routes increased from 82 to 415 rubles, on international ones - from 224 to 599 rubles.
Thanks to Gagarin, “Victory” comes to Saratov, an airport spokesman says: daily on a Boeing 737-800 with a capacity of 189 seats. Victory also applied for a second daily flight to Moscow and a flight to St. Petersburg three times a week, a Gagarina spokesman said.
Employees of the three airlines say that Pobeda was the only one to receive discounts at Gagarin - and substantial, about 50%.
The cost of servicing relative to other airports in the European part of Russia is important, the S7 representative notes: “For example, a turn-around flight on the A319 costs in the range of 100,000-135,000 rubles. in "Pulkovo", Kazan, Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Nizhnekamsk, etc. In Saratov - 280,000-300,000 rubles. "
The main problem is that the passenger pays for the construction of new airports, the S7 representative continues, and pays expensive. “The industry does not have a mechanism for coordinating investment projects for the construction of new airports and terminals. This leads to the costly reconstruction of the terminal or the construction of a new airport, and the airlines are then faced with the fact that tariffs and fees are raised and they are forced to shift the increased costs to the passenger, which is not always possible in the face of competition and declining real incomes of the population, ”complains he.
“How many said that high tariffs will kill transportation?” Killed? No, not killed. On the example of Platov (Rostov-on-Don airport, also built from scratch by the Victor Vekselberg holding. - Vedomosti): airline tariffs were reduced, passenger traffic increased by 30%. I am sure that everything will be all right with the transition from regional to medium-haul aircraft with the economy of carriers [at Gagarin], ”said Chudnovsky (quoted by Interfax).
The cost of transporting another type of aircraft would decrease by 30%, provided that airport fares were kept at the current level, given their growth by 2.5 times, the potential cost reduction would not be so significant - about 10%, the representative of S7 objects. “When using a larger aircraft, airlines are forced to reduce the number of flights. And if now passengers can choose a convenient departure time, including choosing convenient connections, with a reduction in the number of flights for a passenger, the offer will worsen. We do not have a principled position to fly or not to fly to some airport. The decision is made based on the economy, in this case, flying in the winter season is not economically feasible, ”concluded the S7 representative.
Airport charges make up from 15 to 20% in the structure of airline expenses, Boris Rybak, director general of Infomost agency, knows: “Given that the profitability of airlines is close to zero, this is a significant rise in price for them.” Saratov is not an important airport for the route network of any of the airlines, Rybak is sure: “It is clear that the“ Airports of the regions ”have invested in this airport and want to repay this money. But if they do not change the tariff policy, the airport will be empty. ”