Ryanair to commence low-cost flights to Russia
Ireland-based budget airline Ryanair has been given the green light to commence cheap flights to Russia by the country’s aviation authority, with operations set to start from March 2014.
Sergei Isvolsky, a spokesman from the Federal Air Transport Agency known as Rosaviatsia, confirmed that passengers will soon be able to fly on a regular basis from Dublin to Moscow and St Petersburg.
Current spokesman for Ryanair Robin Kiely added that the Irish provider is now in talks with a number of airports with regards to potential destinations.
“Ryanair has had discussions with a number of Russian airports, but they’re purely exploratory at this time,” he explained.
Low-cost flights will be a dramatic change to Russian aviation culture as the country has previously not permitted non-refundable tickets, charging for meals or the hiring of foreign pilots.
However, after the Russian president Vladimir Putin himself backed changes to the law last year, Ryanair’s proposals have become feasible.
Despite alterations to legislation, experts have been quick to warn that the deal between the countries is no straightforward arrangement.
“This is a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Russia so it’s no open-skies policy,” said Alexander Kazbegi, a transport analyst at Renaissance Capital in Moscow.
“If Ryanair wants to fly from other European locations, they need to approach governments there to do a deal with Russia.”
Specialist no-frills operators easyJet and Whizz Air have already targeted the Russian market, with the former advertising a route from London Gatwick to Moscow Domodedovo as well as flights from Manchester to the Russian capital.
The country’s largest local airline Aeroflot also has plans to establish a discount unit of its own at a cost of $100 million (£61 million) in response to the number of no-frills services targeting its market share.