Russian travel: winners and losers in 2014

By Kevin Rozario |

Russia has become the world’s second-fastest growing outbound travel market in terms of spend, up +32% in 2012 – and more than doubling since 2005.


International outbound travel is forecast to grow by +7.5% annually to 2017, but tracking where Russians are going can be difficult in such a dynamic market.


This month, TRBusiness asked aviation analyst OAG for data on the top locations frequented by Russians in 2013 – and also for the forecast travel trends this year.


The winners and losers – based on actual and forecast scheduled airline seat capacities – are shown in the table below [Top 10 only – for the full top 30 ranking see the February issue of TRBusiness]. Gaining the most capacity in 2014 will be Dubai International with +77.6%, which will allow the Emirates hub to shoot up to the top of the ranking for scheduled destinations from Russia in 2014.


Dubai is followed by Bangkok (+58%), and then Bishkek and Osh in Kyrgyzstan. Dubai’s rise is a reflection of FlyDubai’s expansion strategy in the market. John Grant (left), Executive Vice President of OAG Aviation, tells TRBusiness: “We are seeing increased demand from Russia’s secondary cities to the UAE thanks, partly, to new routes and air services.”


Airlines such as FlyDubai and Turkish Airlines are aggressively opening up the wider Russian market, helping to build transfer business through their respective airports in Dubai and Istanbul, the latter expected to grow by +17.4% this year.



The biggest losers are not in the top 10. Based on OAG forecast data they are likely to be Antalya (-62.4%), then Simferopol in Ukraine (-51.9%), while Barcelona is expected to be down -19.6%. Frankfurt, which is currently ranked second, is expected to lose -10.4% capacity and Beijing, ranked eighth, -15.8% capacity.


It should be noted that while Antalya will lose a big chunk of scheduled capacity this year, a large proportion of its business, especially in the summer, is charter holiday traffic so the effect on its duty free and travel retail operators might not be as dramatic as the OAG scheduled data suggest.


While the airline forecasts can’t take into account unforeseen events such as Bangkok’s and Kiev’s political street protests taking place now – and which will temporarily affect travel to the Thai and Ukraine capitals – they are strongly indicative of the confidence that airlines have in filling seats on specific routes during the course of the year.


[For a 10-page special report on the Russian Traveller in DF&TR, see the February issue of TRBusiness magazine.]


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