While Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev personally congratulated the leadership of Pobeda, the only low-cost carrier (LCC) in the country, on its five-year anniversary, the all-Boeing airline remains prohibited from buying additional jets directly from the U.S. manufacturer.
Pobeda runs a fleet of thirty 737-800s, achieving the world’s highest utilization rate for the type at 15 to 16 flight hours per airframe. Expansion plans call for 80 aircraft in 2023, conceivably allowing it to increase the annual passenger traffic to 30 million, up from 7 million 2019.
In a letter to Pobeda dated December 18, Medvedev called Pobeda “a bright example of very useful projects in the newest history of Russian civil aviation."
"From day one, you have been managing the objective of making air transportation services affordable and covering as much as possible of the country’s territory with air routes,” he wrote. “And you have been doing it well.”
In addition to the NGs all received new from the factory, Pobeda has twenty 737-8s on order due for delivery from 2019 to 2021 and holds an option for 30 more starting in 2022. However, Pobeda officials practiced caution when detailing their fleet expansion plans after unsuccessfully lobbying the government for approval to take delivery of the U.S.-made jets. Russia’s Commission for Import Substitution declined to approve of the airline’s request in March.
While Pobeda considers a contingency to the new Boeing acquisitions, the LCC plans to take some used 737-800s from parent company Aeroflot Group in a transfer from fellow group member Rossiya. The latter seeks to improve efficiency through fewer models in its fleet and has decided to rid itself of all narrowbody Boeings in favor of Airbus jets. Out of sixteen 737-800s the carrier operated in November, three will go to Aeroflot and four to Pobeda. The rest could either go back to lessors or get transferred to Pobeda, according to industry sources.