S7 Airlines lost the second position to Pobeda due to a decrease in passenger traffic

Photo by © Aviation of Russia

Passenger traffic of Russian airlines in January 2024 increased by 7.9% to 7.8 million people compared to January 2023. The top five carriers were Aeroflot, Pobeda, Sibir (S7 Airlines), Ural Airlines and Rossiya. Their total passenger traffic grew by 10.5 per cent by January 2023. Such data was reported by Rosaviatsia.

At the same time, S7 Airlines dropped to third place in the ranking, letting low-budget carrier from Aeroflot group – low-cost carrier Pobeda – pass ahead. In January-2024, S7 carried about 910,000 passengers, which is almost 20 per cent less than a year earlier. The biggest drop in passenger traffic was on domestic flights, down 22 per cent.

The airline reported last October that the carrier plans to reduce capacity by 10-15 per cent from November 2023 to March 2024. The reason for this move was S7 Airlines’ problems with maintenance of the PW1100G (GTF) gearbox engines, which are installed on Airbus A320 and A320/A321neo aircraft. In autumn 2023, about 20 per cent of S7’s fleet could not take to the air because of this, including 13 of 39 A321neo.

Maintenance of Pratt&Whitney engines of the PW1000G family is performed only by the manufacturer itself. For this purpose, the power unit must be removed from the aircraft and sent to an authorised specialist service centre, and a replacement unit is installed on the aircraft. Currently, Lufthansa Technik, MTU Aero Engines and Japanese Aero Engines Corporation are authorised to service the geared engines of the PW1000G family.

However, the problem is compounded by the fact that in the summer of 2023 Pratt&Whitney recalled about 1,200 of its GTF engines, which are used by dozens of airlines around the world in A320/321/neo and A220 family aircraft. For Russian carriers, due to sanctions, sending these GTFs for repair to one of the unfriendly countries is not possible at all.

In January 2023, S7 Airlines temporarily withdrew its GTF-powered aircraft from service, explaining that “traditionally in winter, part of the fleet undergoes scheduled maintenance to prepare for the high summer season”. But taking into account that there is no solution to the maintenance and repair of PW1100G engines, the company may lose the third position in the rating of the largest air carriers in Russia to Ural Airlines, which is next to Ural Airlines, whose Airbus family aircraft are equipped with CFM56 engines. MRO of these power units is performed by S7 Technics at Sheremetyevo Airport up to complete disassembly, cleaning of parts, assemblies and units, inspection of faults and subsequent repair or replacement.