Following recent declines, private aircraft charter demand in Russia is expected to rebound, according to online charter portal Avinode. The Sweden-based group’s charter availability system currently includes about 60 Russian operators, offering service on more than 70 business aircraft that operate either into Russia or within the country, according to chief commercial officer Gustav Andreasen. The grand total of requests for charter made through Avinode’s overall system has topped 7 million, and the company expects to pass the milestone of 10 million in October. The largest portion comes from Europe, where the number of requests has increased by 30 percent over last year’s traffic. The U.S. share is 20 percent and growing.
Russia is the only geographic area where requests are down, by 5 percent this year. Before the current strife began in Ukraine, the level of requests for Russian charters had grown somewhat above world’s average with sharp seasonal peaks during the summer. According to Eurocontrol, the current rate of departures from Russia to Europe remains almost the same as last year, between 1,000 and 2,000 per month depending on seasonal peaks. Despite the recent drop in interest, Andreasen still expects that, within two-to-three years, Russian users’ requests will grow from the current 600 thousands a year to 800 thousands.
The most popular destinations for trips originating in Russia are Nice, Geneva, Aix Les Bains, Dubai, Pisa, Le Bourget and London Luton. An analysis of Russian clients’ preferences indicates that the bulk of charter requests are for vacation travel in the summer season and visits to New York around Christmas. Among Russian destinations, Moscow leads in popularity, followed by St. Petersburg, Samara, Rostov-upon-Don and Yekaterinburg. Because of the Olympic games, requests for Sochi doubled this year, placing it among the top five, for now.
As for aircraft types fulfilling the mission, Andreasen said, “Russia is not a small jets’ market.” Among Avinode users, Embraer’s Legacy 600 leads the pack, closely followed by requests for Challenger 604s, 605s and 300s. These four models represent the majority of market interest. The combined categories of entry level, small and super light jets still rank below the “heavy” jets. Charter flights typically average between seven and eight passengers, according to Avinode.