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Irkut Corporation is a major Russian aircraft manufacturer based in Irkutsk. Irkut is involved in research and development, manufacturing, support and upgrades of civil and military aircraft, avionics and ground equipment. Irkut is part of Russian aerospace conglomerate United Aircraft Corporation, and its main companies include Irkutsk Aviation Plant, Beriev Aircraft Company, Yakovlev Design Bureau and BETA AIR Company. Irkut's current civil aircraft programme is the MS-21, a medium-range aircraft with a capacity of 150-210 passengers.
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Russian regional airline RusLine is pursuing significant expansion in summer 2013, including the launch of five routes from Chelyabinsk Airport.
The fast-growing regional operator is Russia’s 16th largest domestic carrier with about 9,500 weekly domestic seats and about a 1% share of the Russian domestic market, according to CAPA and Innovata data. It is based at Moscow Domodedovo Airport, where it is currently the 10th largest domestic carrier.
But RusLine’s capacity will nearly double over the next couple of months as it launches several routes, including from Chelyabinsk and a new base at Voronezh, and adds capacity in several existing markets. The carrier plans to offer almost 20,000 weekly domestic seats in the Russian domestic market in Jul-2013, giving it almost a 2% share.
Siberia-China seat capacity grew 202% between 2003 and 2012 and China's northern City of Harbin is now jockeying to become a network hub for Siberia. The airport accounts for 15% of Siberia-China capacity, far less than the largest Chinese airport, Beijing, 1000km to its southeast. Harbin offers geographical advantages to Siberian cities in the far east while Beijing can serve those with some circuitry as well as western Siberian cities. Urumqi in China's far west could also be a hub for Siberia, supporting China Southern's development of Urumqi as a West Asia/CIS hub.
The motivation is simple. Siberia's 40 million population has proven an increasingly important trade relationship for China – so much so that in the economic turmoil of 2009, Siberia was the only part of Russia to maintain a positive investment trend. China is tapping Siberia for resources ranging from wood to oil and, increasingly, hydroelectricity from Siberia's numerous rivers. Russia's largest private energy company forecasts Siberia's GDP could triple in 15 years.
Russia is preparing to open up its aviation market to more low-cost competition, in a potential game changing move that could lead to significantly more local and foreign LCC capacity over the next few years. In its efforts to create an environment able to foster low-cost competition, various changes to aviation legislation are in the pipeline.
Leading Russian carriers have signified their interest in entering the low-cost market while foreign LCCs have stated their interest in operating to, from and within Russia. The upcoming changes to legislation could lead to a significant increase in LCC activity in the country, with forecasts of LCCs gaining up to 35% market share within 10 years.
Transaero, Russia’s fourth largest carrier, is pursuing further growth across its domestic and international networks. Transaero will be operating a 20% larger schedule in summer 2013 compared to summer 2012 with considerable expansion in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The carrier’s widebody fleet, which is already the largest in Russia, is set to increase over the next several years, leading to further ambitious expansion across its medium and long-haul network. The carrier already operates a widebody fleet of about 50 aircraft consisting of 747-300/400s, 767-200/300s and 777-200/300s, and plans to take three new types over the next few years – A380s, 747-8Is and 787s.
Yakutia is undergoing network and fleet expansion as it continues to grow and develop into a major Russian regional carrier. The airline, which launched operations 10 years ago, is also making an effort to reach international standards, having recently secured IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification.
Yakutia is currently Russia’s 11th largest airline based on capacity with just over 28,000 seats per week. The airline is close to attaining 10th position from Yamal Airlines, which offers just over 29,000 seats per week.
The lure for an airline to grow beyond its home market by targeting sixth freedom traffic is as old as the jet age: bygone Icelandic carrier Loftleidir ruffled feathers in the 1950s by carrying far more passengers than its local population while KLM in 1957 listed on the New York Stock Exchange, partially to quell nationalist fears it was taking too many passengers from the US.
Efforts to focus on sixth freedom traffic come and go: KLM has remained (upwards of 80% of its passengers transit its Schiphol hub) while Emirates has sprung up (now as the third largest carrier in the world). And, as Chinese and other north Asian airlines expand their roles, now carriers like Aeroflot are making new pushes into sixth freedom traffic.
Aeroflot's Moscow hub has strikingly similar geography to Helsinki, where Finnair is betting its future on sixth freedom traffic, while claiming a network that can rival those in Europe and the Middle East.
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