As Russia’s economy continues to shrink and the ruble’s value drops precipitously, several international airlines are reducing their service to Russia as the number of people traveling plummets.
Most recently, Finnair said last week that, beginning in February, flights between Helsinki and Nizhny Novgorod would be temporarily suspended. Other airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways International and Austrian-based Niki have cut flights to Russia altogether.
Airlines such as EasyJet, Air Berlin and Air France have all reduced the number of flights they offer or began using smaller planes.
Airlines of all sizes have been negatively impacted by the fall of the ruble. Just last year, against the U.S. dollar, the ruble lost 40% of its value. This is partly due to the drop in oil prices and partly because of biting sanctions levelled against the country for invading Ukraine.
International airlines price their tickets in foreign currency. As the ruble became less and less valuable, the prices offered by these international carriers became more expensive compared to Russian airlines, who price in rubles.
Travel within the country is also down significantly as Russians lack funds to take vacations.
According to Russia’s Federal Air Transportation Agency, the number of passengers flying to Moscow via international carriers dropped from 5.7 million to 4.6 million within a years period.
Airlines that continue to offer service to Russia have been focusing their flights on major hubs such as St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The trend of airlines reducing flights to Russia or canceling them altogether looks set to continue as Russia’s economy drops. With October marking the start of the low season for airlines, the situation will only worsen.
Delta, one of U.S. major air carriers announced that flights from Moscow will be suspended starting in October.