Russian operator Utair is attributing an improvement in half-year financial performance to better fuel efficiency and aircraft utilisation, but acknowledges that it remain under pressure from a high debt burden.

It says net working capital and liquidity showed a "significant decrease" owing to the reclassification of Rb65.9 billion of loans as short-term obligations.

The company cut net losses by about one-third, to Rb2.5 billion ($38 million), over the first six months.

Utair says it has been facing seasonal fluctuations and pressure from competition, as well as trends such as civil aviation costs growing faster than inflation and a "limited solvency" among consumers.

"The trend towards monopolisation of the market is getting worse," it adds, pointing out that the five largest Russian airlines transport 65.3% of passengers.

Utair ranks sixth behind Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Rossiya, Pobeda and Ural Airlines, according to official figures from federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia.

The carrier says it is "continuously implementing" measures designed to improve the economic efficiency of its operations.

Over the first half it improved unit revenues by 2% while cutting unit costs by the same level. Utair says it managed to adjust its commercial model to provide growth in loads without raising ticket prices.