Aeroflot sees obstacles to low-cost Russian air travel lifted soon

Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:08pm EDT
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By Jack Stubbs

LONDON (Reuters) - Laws preventing airlines from charging for food and baggage - the last obstacles standing in the way of significantly cheaper airfares in Russia - will be lifted soon, the country's largest carrier Aeroflot (AFLT.MM: Quote) predicted on Sunday.

The Russian government has already revoked laws prohibiting the sale of non-refundable tickets and employment of foreign pilots since the state-carrier announced plans to launch low-cost airline Dobrolet last year, chief executive Vitaly Saveliev told Reuters in an interview ahead of this year's Farnborough International Airshow (FIA).

But allowing Russia's new budget airline to charge for food and baggage would result in ticket prices up to 40 percent cheaper than Aeroflot's traditional economy class service.

"These are the laws that will allow Russia to have low-cost airlines which will operate under the same rules as those in Europe and America,” said Saveliev. "Low-cost, it is a very simple service – no food and no free-of-charge luggage."

Saveliev said a repeal of the obligation to provide food is pending and he believes the Russian parliament will soon reach a decision allowing Dobrolet to charge for baggage, in line with European discount carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet.

“We are looking at Ryanair as a model. For us, Ryanair is maybe one of the best low-cost carriers," he said.

Dobrolet, which roughly translates to mean "Goodflight", made its maiden flight from Moscow to the Crimean capital of Simferopol in June, a politically-motivated decision after Russia drew condemnation from Western governments when it seized control of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in March.

Initial flights on the route have been operating at full capacity and Saveliev said tickets are now booked up until the end of August.   Continued...

Airport staff walk under Aeroflot's Moscow-Havana flight aircraft at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport July 11, 2013.  REUTERS/Desmond Boylan