Russia’s Aeroflot Group is hoping to restore 80% of its international services by the end of this year, and restore the network fully by the end of the winter season in March 2021.
Chief executive Vitaly Saveliev has outlined the ambition during a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Saveliev pointed out that the company was experiencing problems with bringing its domestic services back to normal even with heavily-discounted fares.
Aeroflot Group’s low-cost division Pobeda has been offering tickets at prices cut by 60%.
“When passengers buy tickets, its aircraft look as if they are almost full. But then, before departure, their seats are only 80% occupied,” Saveliev told Putin.
“This is because many passengers are refusing to fly, because the cities to which they are going still have restrictions in place, which scare passengers – and they don’t fly.”
Putin assured that almost all regional governors had submitted plans on a phased lifting of restrictions – pointing out that this was because the coronavirus situation was improving, and not because the air transport industry was “having a hard time”.
“This is very important because, as soon as we do this, the situation will change radically,” Saveliev told him.
He added that, if flights are allowed to recover, domestic operations could be fully restored to last year’s level by December.
Saveliev said that several European and Middle Eastern carriers were resuming international services, and that Aeroflot could restore about 80% of its own operation by the end of the year, with a full level returning by the end of March.
He added that Aeroflot was keen to recover its transit traffic, particularly between China and Europe, where it occupied a strong position.
“We are eager to get this position back again because we worked so hard to achieve it,” he said. “This is a fairly large flow, about 10 million passengers, and it is very profitable.”