St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport is Russia’s fourth largest airport and continues to grow and is planning for the future, writes Justin Burns
Traffic has grown 166% over the last decade at St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport from 6.8 million in 2009 to 18.1 million last year.
Last year numbers increased by 12.3% on 2017 while traffic movements increased by 9.6% to 165,400 while 20 new routes were added to the network.
Such continued strong growth has led the airport to look into reconsidering its airport masterplan, says Evgeniy Ilyin, Chief Commercial Officer at Pulkovo Airport. “We are reconsidering our masterplan and are in the final stage of approval of the adopted masterplan and it should be done within the coming months,” he says.
“There are different scenarios under consideration which would see major changes and there could be an increase of the infrastructure, particularly for domestic and international airside facilities.”
Among options being considered Ilyin says is the development of a separate infrastructure for low-cost carriers (LCC) or developing Pulkovo’s Terminal 2 into an LCC terminal, to meet future demand and growth in the last few years of the segment.
LCC traffic is growing fast in St Petersburg and within the last three years it has grown from a few hundred thousand to 1.2 million in 2018 with growth being driven by Aeroflot-owned Pobeda Airlines which continues to develop its domestic offering from the airport. The airline has though had to cancel international routes due to a dispute with Russia’s border control agency.
In 2019 the airport expects another 9% uplift in passenger traffic with new routes being added to various destinations.
These include SunExpress from Izmir which is another new point on the map from Turkey, while S7 Airlines will launch a scheduled direct service to the Russian city of Irkutsk, a route that returns to Saint Petersburg as well as services to Olbia and Palma de Mallorca.
The long-haul network this summer will also see new routes to Fuzhou and Hangzhou in China, to be operated by iFly Airlines. New routes for the upcoming summer season will also include domestic destinations of Elista with Azimuth Airline and Nizhnevartovsk with Utair.
China is an important market and focus, Ilyin says: “China’s market has been growing for several years in a row and last year we had about 230,000 Chinese passengers travelling directly to St Petersburg and almost 130,000 we are getting indirectly. Seeing that opportunity and volume we targeted developing this market and opening new routes and it is a very important market for us.”
The main focus markets Ilyin says are adding services to Asia and launching a first direct route to the USA. “We still do not have any direct flights to the USA but the indirect traffic is really high. From statistics we can see more than 150,000 passengers a year travel indirect from St Petersburg to points in the USA but if we consider leakage from ground to neighbouring cities then this figure can be 200,000,” he says.
“These figures show us that we are absolutely sure a direct route to the USA can be successful and we are trying to solve this issue and attract a carrier operating on fifth freedom rights from St Petersburg to a point in the USA and coming to St Petersburg from another country and then flying to the USA from Saint Petersburg. This is the way we want to solve this issue.”