Western airlines recognise importance of fast-growing Russian market
British Airways has announced that it and the Russian carrier S7 Airlines will start codesharing on each other’s flights between London Heathrow, Moscow and across domestic routes in Russia from February 8. This follows S7’s recent entry into the oneworld alliance. The codeshares will operate on S7 flights between Moscow and Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, Kaliningrad, Krasnoyarsk and Ufa. All BA services between Moscow Domodedovo and London Heathrow Terminal 5 will carry an S7 code as well.
The codeshare flights are on sale now. Airlines are solidifying working relationships with Russian airlines in recognition of the fact that Russia is one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets. According to the latest WTO figures, the Russian outbound tourism market surged by 42.7% during H1 2010 year-on-year, far outpacing the 7% increase in the global number of foreign tourist arrivals.
This is partly due to recovery from the fall in travel from Russia during the financial crisis. But the tourism flow from Russia is already up 10.4% compared to the first half of 2008, reaching almost 5.5 billion trips abroad during the first half of 2010.
Russians’ disposable income is growing quickly. British Airways’ general manager for Europe and Africa, Gavin Halliday: “Russia is an important market for us and we are pleased that our relationship with S7 is developing well. The codeshare with S7 will give our customers much better access to many more cities across Russia and help S7 customers take advantage of better links to Heathrow Terminal 5.”
S7 Airlines already has codeshares with 10 airlines, including Air Berlin and Iberia. Other Russian airlines are forging codeshare agreements too. Aeroflot has 28 of them, with airlines such as Air France/KLM, SAS, Finnair and Czech Airlines, while Rossiya signed a codeshare with KLM last year and maintains agreements with Finnair and SAS, among others. The fast-growing Latvian airline airBaltic, which is making an impact deep into the Finnish aviation market, has just concluded a code share with Transaero.
Tero Taskila, CCO of airBaltic: “This agreement allows us to offer attractive ticket prices for flights to destinations in Russia, Central Asia and Far East, while Transaero passengers will find it convenient to travel to Riga and beyond to Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East.”