Gradual Increase Seen in Russian Bizav Activity

 - September 28, 2012, 1:40 PM
Business aircraft flying activity is steadily rising in Russia, but confusion remains over exactly what constitutes business aviation.

Business aviation traffic in Russia will show a slight increase this year as the sector continues to buck the trend seen in the country’s commercial traffic overall, which saw a significant fall in 2011. Official figures also show that the increase represents stagnation compared with more rapid initial growth in the sector. The prognosis for 2012 is that the number of business aviation flights in Russia will increase from 152,500 to 154,000 flights, with just more than half of these being made by foreign operators.

Leonid Sherbakov, chief inspector at Russia’s Central Department of Operational Services of Civil Aviation, known as TsPDU GA Aerotrans, told AIN this week at Jet Expo in Moscow that his organization’s estimates for business aviation traffic are based on its own definition of what constitutes this mode of transportation. This, he explained, is based on a survey of the industry, which had found that the popular view of business aviation was that it represented “any sort of manned aerial vehicle, regardless of takeoff weight, that is equipped with luxury interior; any aircraft that is fully or partly owned by an individual; any aircraft that belongs to a person or a corporation who uses the asset as a means of transportation, to reach various remote points, especially those that are not served by scheduled airlines or public services provided are not adequate for business purposes; and all light and ultralight aircraft flying not under a central timetable.”

Aerotrans has also attempted to define “national” (Russian) and “foreign” business aviation activity within Russia, based on the country of origin for the company operating the aircraft. The study conducted on this basis found that in 2010 and 2011 “national” business aviation generated very similar flight numbers, with an August peak at 10,000 flights and February trough at 3,000. By comparison, in 2006 the August peak was 7,000 flights and February was only 2,000 flights. This tends to indicate that Russian business aviation is currently in relative stagnation after a period of significant growth.

Meanwhile, all business aviation flights in 2010 and 2011 numbered between 16,000 and 17,000 in August, dropping to around 8,000 in February. At the same time, flights by foreign operators fluctuated between 5,000 and 7,000 a month, almost without the seasonal peaks observed for the Russian operators. In the peak summer months, “national” business aviation generated 10,000 flights, compared with 7,000 for foreign operators.

Over a longer period, 2006 to 2010, “national” business aviation operators accounted for 51 percent with foreign accounting for the remainder. Statistics available for first three months of 2012 give the distribution as 60 percent versus 40 percent in favor of foreigner operators.

The new Aerotrans report, Business Aviation In Russia: Key Trends And Forecasts, offers the following four conclusions: Russia needs more developed business aviation to serve its economy better and to stimulate development; a good competitive environment is present in the Russian market, stimulating healthy competition; the market has a large potential for further growth; and infrastructure outside of large cities continues to have a negative effect. Aerotrans accepted that to improve the quality of assessment and estimates, better terminology and definitions are required. For example, the separation between categories of flight used does not allow tourists charters to be screened out.