UK-Russia aviation: Wizz Air enters underserved market

Premium Analysis

The UK-Russia aviation market is a massive underachiever, judged by its size against the magnitude of each country as a market in its own right.

There are currently only two airlines, Aeroflot and British Airways, operating only 70 weekly frequencies on a meagre four airport pairs and two city pairs (London-Moscow and London-St Petersburg) between two of Europe's largest nations.

This underserved market is attracting interest from new entrants.

The ultra LCC Wizz Air will launch two new routes from the UK to Russia on 1-Oct-2019, with services to Moscow Vnukovo and St Petersburg from London Luton Airport operated by its Wizz Air UK subsidiary. On 27-Oct-2019 Ural Airlines will launch London Stansted to Moscow Zhukovsky.

Nevertheless, the total of six UK-Russia airport pairs in the coming winter is still a paltry figure, and weekly seat capacity will only be back to where it was in 2014. Since then, easyJet has abandoned its loss-making three-year foray into this market, and Aeroflot's LCC subsidiary Pobeda has been and gone in just one winter season. UK-Russia has long been seen as a difficult market for new entrants.

Wizz Air UK, the UK subsidiary of a Central/Eastern European airline, may change that.

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