Russian Airlines See 26.6% Passenger Drop in March

The number of passengers flying with Russian airlines fell by 26.6% in March, federal aviation agency Rosaviatsiya said on Thursday, according to

Amid heavy restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Russian carriers served 6.57 million people in March, a sharp decline year-on-year. First-quarter numbers were also down to 23.4 million passengers, a drop of 5.3% year-on-year.

The only airline in the top-five group that managed to improve its year-on-year performance during the month was Aeroflot Group’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda Airlines. The low-cost carrier served 748,000 passengers, up 3% in March 2019, ranking it as Russia’s third-largest after parent Aeroflot and S7 Airlines

Despite Aeroflot’s privileged position as Russia’s only airline allowed to continue some international flights before the borders were closed in late March, the Russian flag carrier nevertheless experienced a 41.5 percent drop of passenger numbers in the month, down to 1.8 million passengers. A similar traffic slowdown of 41.7 percent was registered by its sister airline Rossiya, which carried 415,100 passengers, ranking it as Russia’s fifth-largest.

Aeroflot’s privately owned rival S7 Airlines served 999,600 passengers in the period, 22.1 percent down on March 2019.

Russia said it had resumed some international flights to repatriate its citizens after having suspended all flights last week to stop a potential new wave of coronavirus infections.

Passengers who arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on a flight from Thailand amid the pandemic were cleared by law enforcement officers inside a terminal building on Tuesday.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said last week that 25,000 Russians abroad had appealed for help getting home.

Many regions including Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak, have imposed lockdowns to combat the virus.

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