Staunton, April 20 – Because of the pandemic, Aeroflot has not only ended all international flights but has reduced its domestic service to approximately 150 flights a day – and all of those flights either originate in or end in Moscow, thus restoring what was the notorious Soviet-era pattern (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2020/04/20/828431-aeroflot).
In Soviet times, anyone wishing to travel by air from one oblast to another even in distant Siberia typically had to fly through Moscow, spending many hours in the air to go only a few hundred kilometers. After 1991, flights between oblast and republic capitals increased and regional hubs emerged. But now that trend has been reversed.
(It remains the case that some smaller airlines, the so-called “baby Aeroflots” and new carriers like S7 which has a hub in Novosibirsk are still in operation and do provide regional service. But most of them have also cut back their schedules given low demand, and because they lease rather than own planes, they now face bankruptcy Six have already stopped flights.)
Just how isolated many places are is reflected by the new schedule: Aeroflot has completely stopped flights to Abakan, Arkhangelsk, Voronezh, Grozny, Kemerovo, Magas, Nizhnekamsk, Novokuznetsk, Saransk and Saratov, and reduce the number of flights to one a week to Barnaul, Belgorod, Geldnzhik, Stavropol, Tomsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, and Yakutsk.
Aeroflot and the remaining carriers in Russia have seen their passenger loads decline by 90 to 95 percent, but the most striking development perhaps is that Aeroflot, the only carrier in Soviet times, has never before lost first place in the number of flights conducted and passengers carried. Now it has, to S7.
After the collapse of the USSR, Aeroflot concentrated on international flights, allowing the new carriers to dominate the domestic market; but since 2000, it has re-entered the domestic one and, until the pandemic, dominated almost all routes.