Destinations interesting for low-cost airlines in Belarus, Belavia tickets pricing and state subsidies. These are just some of the hot topics discussed at a press conference with the representatives of the Belarusian airlines on Wednesday, 31 October.
Low-cost airlines, come!
“Stable and high (*passenger traffic) is necessary. There are just a few directions in Belarus where low-cost airlines can work today.
Moscow, Kiev, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Larnaca – that’s it,” said Belavia Airlines Director General Anatoly Gusarov.
Belavia CEO stressed the company’s desire to adjust the business model in order to offer lower tariffs. However, the company ‘will never be able to do at the level of low-cost airlines.’
“Everything costs something: safety of flights, maintaining the flying validity of aircraft, taxes, and loans… I believe we can offer a portion of tickets at affordable prices, and we are striving for this.”
He also reminded that the Belarusian carrier is a traditional airline that won’t turn into a low-cost airline with no meals or baggage services. Besides, Director General shared his impressions of tickets price as a Belavia passenger.
“I pay the same price (as any other Belavia passenger – BelarusFeed note) when flying on vacation and not on a business trip. This is when the price of the ticket seems expensive. I even joke with the colleagues about the high price. But when we count the whole economy of flights, it seems the price is not high enough. Low-cost airlines have completely different mechanisms.”
Belavia can reduce the cost of tickets mainly to the destinations with high passenger traffic.
“We fly to Zhukovsky airport (Moscow) at fairly low rates, this is possible due to strong demand. The same approach works in any direction. If there were twice as many passengers to Paris, we would put twice as large airplanes and the price would be lower.’
Interested but not really
Artyom Sikorsky, Director of Aviation Department, commented on the possibility of low-cost flights to Belarus.
“Communication with many carriers takes place the same way it does with WizzAir and Ryanair. They say they are watching our market, they are interested in it but that’s it.”
He recalled that Belarusian aviation authorities covered all requirements of the Russian airline Pobedabut at the regional airport but that didn’t work out.
“Subsidies is a difficult question. Besides discounts on ground handling, low-cost companies also require a certain percentage for the sale of duty free units, etc. But we can have some conditions too. Let’s say they don’t pay for ground handling at airports, but they should bring 100 thousand tourists there.
When a region is interested in attracting a company, it turns into a comfortable negotiation platform. A good example: Belavia flies to the Baltic resort towns, where local authorities use a subsidy procedure to attract tourists.
The subsidy procedures are being discussed. The Ministry of Finance adopted a firm stance on this issue, but with the transportation development program, we have smoothed certain critical angles. I think that if local governments are interested, budget transportation will develop,” Artyom Sikorsky concluded.