Russian aviation #2: airport capacity increases, regions lead the way

Premium Analysis

Russia has been hit hard by the pandemic, but compared to some countries its airline capacity has held up well and people have continued to travel, at least domestically, although international travel remains as difficult there as it is anywhere.

While this peculiar situation has promoted two of Moscow's airports into the top three in Europe in 1Q2021, it is the regional airports that are witnessing the largest increases in capacity - in many cases exceeding comfortably not only the capacity recorded in 2020, but also in 2019 as well.

These regional airports are almost exclusively handling domestic flights, and that makes the overall seat capacity gains even more surprising. What is more, this degree of activity is helping put important regional cities like Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Krasnodar back on the map again, and also the resort town of Sochi, two to three years after they received exposure during the World Cup, which will do them no harm.

What will do them harm is a return of the virus in another one of its many guises, and Russia may be teetering on the edge of that outcome.

This report examines the current status of 10 airports: four in Moscow, one in St Petersburg and five others.

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