S7 Airlines, Russia’s biggest private airline, has suspended plans to launch a low-cost unit, because it cannot get the Airbus aircraft required for the project after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian news outlet RBC cited a spokeswoman for the airline as saying the airline was halting the plans due to current circumstances. “Deliveries of the aircraft required to launch the low-cost airline will not take place in 2022, so the development of an airline with this business model is now unfortunately impossible,” she told RBC on June 8, 2022.
S7, which is also Russia’s second largest carrier, will make a further decision on the project by the end of the year, RBC further cited the spokeswoman as saying.
S7 announced its intention to create a new low-cost unit in August 2021. At the time, it said flights would begin in July 2022, with a fleet of Airbus A320neo aircraft. S7 had planned for Citrus, which was due to focus on regional routes in central Russia, to have more than 20 aircraft in 2024.
The airline had expected Citrus to carry 1 million passengers in the first year, increasing to 6-7 million in 2024.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a host of sanctions being placed on the country’s airlines, including not being able to access aircraft or parts manufactured by Airbus and Boeing, while Europe-based lessors have ended contracts with Russian operators.
As a result, Russia has allowed its airlines to re-register foreign-owned aircraft and has implemented measures to maintain foreign aircraft.
Aeroflot, the country’s largest airline, is reportedly looking at placing an order for domestically made aircraft, according to Russian media.