As part of its business development strategy, Aeroflot announced a new winter schedule Thursday, focusing on profitable destinations and canceling loss-making routes. Company officials expect the change to bring in $32 million more in profits compared to last year.
The shift will mean that flights to Paris, London, Bangkok, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, will be beefed up, said Valery Okulov, Aeroflot's general director, who added that the company will also put bigger planes in the air and cut waiting time for connecting flights.
At the same time, the airline will cancel several destinations, including San Paolo and Lisbon offering customers connecting flights to those cities via Air France and Spain Air instead, Okulov said.
"Flying to Lisbon once a week makes no sense for us, since nobody will wait a week to get there," Alexander Kanishchev, head of the Aeroflot route network department, said.
About 10 routes made losses in last year's winter schedule, but according to a company estimate there will be none this year, despite the recent hikes in fuel prices.
There is a substantial potential for growth on several routes between Moscow and popular business destinations in Europe, Okulov said. Currently, Aeroflot flies only 16 percent of all passengers traveling between Moscow and Zurich, and only 3 percent on the same line in business class, he added. "We can increase our presence in the market by adding more flights and using better planes."
Experts say that the changes to Aeroflot's winter schedule are positive ones. "The new strategy of abandoning unprofitable destinations and focusing on profitable routes looks impressive," said Andrei Abramov, an expert with Nikoil brokerage in Moscow. "This is an optimal strategy given that Aeroflot expects to join a global airline alliance within a few years."
Abramov added that the airline will then be able to sell tickets to any international destination, having many flights on several priority routes.