Russian private airline S7 plans to launch a new low-cost carrier next year in a market battered by the coronavirus pandemic, betting on flights between Russian regions bypassing Moscow and St. Petersburg, the airline said on Wednesday.
S7 plans to order 24 new A320 Neo Airbus aircraft for the new carrier by 2024 and deliver total passenger traffic from 2022 to 2024 of more than 7 million people.
It will lease planes with 186 passenger seats, four of which have already been contracted, while a contract for another four is being prepared, said Tatiana Fileva, chairman of S7’s board of directors.
“People’s incomes are falling, and especially during the pandemic … there is definitely a niche in Russia for increasing the number of seats on low-cost carriers,” she said.
Russia currently has one low-cost airline, Pobeda, which state carrier Aeroflot owns.
Russia, like other countries, has heavily restricted international air traffic due to the coronavirus since last year. Still, domestic flights are already recovering, and Russian authorities support regional flights, prompting Russian airlines to order more jets.