Citrus, a new low-cost carrier of the Russian S7 Group, has decided to start flight operations from Kazan and Omsk. Russia’s largest private aviation holding S7 announced to base its LCC’s operation at Kazan International Airport and Omsk Tsentralny Airport. The airline has already begun recruiting flight members, including pilots and flight attendants, to fly from these home cities.
Citing market development potential as the primary factor for ‘home’ airports selection, the carrier seeks to grab opportunities of having no major base carrier in these cities, hence the gap in demand. The present route network from Kazan and Omsk is not enough to cater to air service demand in those areas taking population and economy into consideration. For example, the comparable population of Kazan to Novosibirsk or Yekaterinburg does not have enough flights to connect to these regions from there. The rise of the new carrier will improve the route network between these cities, provide direct connections from these cities to points on the map, which were difficult and lengthy to reach previously.
However, the carrier hasn’t finalized its full route network as it is still negotiating with airports. According to Federal Air Transport Agency, Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport handled 5.6 million passenger movements while Yekaterinburg Koltsovo Airport had passenger traffic of 5.1 million during these ten months of this year.
Omsk Tsentralny is a regional airport located 5km southwest of Omsk Oblast owned by the regional government that served around 1.2 million people during ten months of 2021. Similarly, Kazan International Airport is Russia’s 15th busiest airport that serves approximately 3.8 million passengers of Kazan, Russia. The airport caters to S7 Airlines, Aeroflot, Nordwind Airlines, Ural Airlines, Wizz Air, etc. Oleg Seliverstov, the general director of Omsk airport, declined to comment on the Citrus-based project as the official agreement is yet to be sealed. Adel Gataullin, a spokesperson for Kazan airport, declared it too early to comment in detail on plans to work with Citrus.
S7 Airlines has announced to schedule initial flights of Citrus for July 2022 using A320 neo aircraft with ticket sales starting on April 1, 2022. The carrier will complete its final route network by spring, focusing on direct cross-regional routes in central Russia. The cost of the ticket will be dependent on the routing grid.
In August, S7 Group announced its plan to create a low-cost airline as a logical and consistent step to improve cross-regional accessibility of the region. Aware of such plans in May, S7 Airlines underwent thorough research on the experience of foreign companies dealing with the Russian market.
Russian aviation is led by Aeroflot’s own LCC, Pobeda that outgrew the number of passengers in 2019 by 33% in April 2021. So, S7 showed the zest to serve regional traffic of Russia in a low-cost front concentrating primarily on direct interregional routes bypassing Moscow and Moscow regions. The Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation supports creating another domestic low-cost transportation system in central Russia to satisfy the population’s demand for low-cost flights and increase the population’s mobility.
Future plans of Citrus brand
In Citrus Airline’s first year of operation, the LCC brand is estimated to serve a passenger traffic flow of approximately 1 million, increasing passenger traffic to 6.7 million starting from 2024. Providing point-to-point interregional service connections, the new-cost airline will increase the volume of regional air transportation and save time and money for passengers on flights between second and third cities, mainly in Central Russia.
Regarding fleet expansion, the initial fleet will consist of 4 new comfortable Airbus A320 neo aircraft that’ll enlarge to include six to eight aircraft annually with a total of 24 aircraft by the year 2024. The airline has already completed a preliminary deal to receive these initial four liners allowing it to tap into rebounding domestic tourism in Russia.
About S7 Airlines
S7 Airlines is the largest Russian private aviation holding which is in the list of the 100 best airlines in the world and top 3 airlines in Eastern Europe. Possessing expertise in the field of air transportation, airplane maintenance, and outer space exploration, it is a leading carrier of Russia and a world leader providing quality service to passengers.
Russia has long-term potential for aerospace research and technology. A year and a half since the suspension of international travel, Russia has slowly resumed direct air travel with several countries and opened doors to tourists from 74 countries. Russia will demand specific medical documentation and proof of COVID immunity for all travelers as a precautionary measure. Local governments set quarantine regulations on some arrivals from places where air travel has not fully been restored.