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In a move to improve the efficiency of its fleet, S7 Airlines, Russia’s largest privately-owned carrier, has started phasing out its Airbus A319 aircraft. One third of its smallest and oldest narrow-bodies will be retired by the end of this year.
The first of 18 A319s in the airline’s fleet – the 19-year-old VP-BTT – has already left Russia a few days ago. S7 Airlines was the country’s second airline to receive the A319 after Aeroflot, which phased out the last aircraft of the type in 2016.
S7 Airlines introduced its first A319 in 2006 and, for a decade, operated a total of 20 second-hand units of the type manufactured between 1999 and 2005 before starting to unload them. The first two aircraft to leave the fleet were transferred to S7 Airlines’ affiliate Cyprus Airways in 2016 and 2018.
To improve operational efficiency, the Russian carrier has been constantly increasing the capacity of its A319s. The airline has gone from 128 seats in an original two-class configuration to an all-economy cabin configuration with 144 seats.
The airline operates 17 of its remaining A319s on mostly domestic routes. S7 Airlines’ representative told ATO.ru, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication, that one third of these A319s are to be phased out by the end of this year, to be replaced with the new more capacious and efficient A320neo and A321neo.
S7 Airlines is the largest operator of the A320neo aircraft family in Russia. Currently the airline has 12 A320neos and four A321neos in its fleet offering a seat capacity of 164 and 203 respectively. By the end of this year S7 Airlines expects to receive nine more of the A320neo family of aircraft.
The airline took the decision to phase out its entire fleet of A319s due to their age and lower capacity. The decision will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the business efficiency of the airline.
Pavel Permyakov, president of Utair, another major Russian airline, recently told ATO.ru that the average capacity amongst Russian carriers in the medium-haul segment is now 163 seats. For commercial reasons, aircraft with smaller seating capacities are less attractive options.
According to Utair’s forecast, by 2025, the average capacity of medium-haul aircraft in Russia will increase to 180 seats. Currently Utair operates more than 20 Boeing 737-500s equipped with 126 seats.