Russian airlines incur heavy losses after Georgia flight ban

Russian airlines have lost more than 3.2 billion rubles (close to 45.3 million euros) since the country banned flights to and from Georgia on July 8, Russian business daily Vedomosti has reported, citing sources from Russia’s transport ministry and federal aviation agency.

According to the calculations of Russian officials, the Yekaterinburg-based Ural Airlines suffered the heaviest losses, losing around 1.2-1.3 billion rubles (around 18.3 million euros). Aeroflot and S7, the country’s two biggest airlines, lost 700 million rubles (9.9 million euros) each. The losses of Pobeda Airlines, a Moscow-based low-cost airline amount to 400 million rubles (around 5.6 million euros), with the other Russian air companies, Red Wings and Smartavia losing around 120 and 100 million rubles (1.7 and 1.4 million euros), respectively.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a complete flight ban to and from Georgia after large-scale protests erupted in Tbilisi against Russia’s annexation of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia in 2008.

The Russian move came as an external economic shock to Georgia, whose tourism industry, which mostly relies on Russian tourists, suffered heavy losses.

In October, the Georgian foreign minister Davit Zalkaliani called for resumption of flights while Sergey Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, said this could only be done if the Georgian government takes steps against what he described as Russophobia in the country.