Aeroflot ponders deferral of aircraft deliveries

Moscow
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Aeroflot has indicated that it may seek to defer some aircraft deliveries in the face of weakening passenger demand.

Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database shows that the Russian flag carrier has a total of 188 aircraft – 150 narrowbodies and 38 widebodies on order from foreign and domestic manufacturers.

However, general manager Vitaly Saveliev says Aeroflot may have to review delivery schedules because of a slowdown in traffic growth rate. "I saw a similar fall in demand for travel in 2009," he told an international forum in Russia. "This is what is taking place now. Our advance tickets sales have declined as travellers ceased booking seats on flights to be conducted three to six months afterwards."

The slackening trend in demand set in around June, says Saveliev, suggesting that domestic customers "cannot fully discern the situation" from political and economic standpoints. "Therefore, they began to cut on discretionary expenses such as travel," he adds.

Aiming to decrease capacity, Aeroflot management intends to defer some of deliveries until "a bit later". Declining to elaborate, Saveliev stresses that the airline is only considering this option.

"We're waiting for our third-quarter operational results," he says. "If the slump continues, we'll make a definitive decision."

Under its long-term business development plan, Aeroflot's annual passenger traffic is to grow by 15%, but Saveliev does not rule out that it will reach 8 to 9% this year.

In the first six months of 2014, the carrier's passenger numbers were 15.7 million, up 10.8% from the first half of 2013.

Aeroflot's on-order narrowbodies comprise 50 Irkut MC-21s, 46 Boeing 737s, 20 Sukhoi Superjets and 14 Airbus A320-family jets. For its widebody fleet, the airline has ordered 26 787s and 22 A350s.