Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation

Subsidies fail to solve air transportation problem in remote pulated localities

Rosaviatsiya has approved the list of air routes to be subsidized in 2021. The subsidies will amount to 14.4 billion rubles, including 7.7 billion rubles from the federal budget and 6.7 billion rubles from regional budgets. However, the selection criteria put unprofitable regional air routes in a difficult situation.

The subsidies are supposed to boost transport accessibility of Russian regions, first and foremost populated localities with no alternative to aviation but with a high social significance. These are routes bypassing Moscow.

At the same time, the amendments made to the subsidizing procedure in August 2020, give the priority to airlines operating modern Russian planes, which have been manufactured in the Russian Federation since January 1, 2009.

As a result of the amendments, nearly 70% of subsidies allotted under the regional aviation development program will be received by airlines mostly operating Sukhoi Superjet 100, expert from the Analytical Center’s Department for Transport Economics and Development Alexander Terentyev said.

“At the moment, Russian airlines operate only 109 aircraft of the kind, and the unspent budget subsidies for regional air routes amounted to 880 million rubles in 2020,” the expert said. “What is more, the 2021 list of subsidized air routes does not include 21 airports and reduces as redundant 43 routes in regions with no alternative to aviation but with a high social significance.

As a result of subsidizing criteria, funds are primarily allotted to most profitable routes, for instance, flights to resort towns in the south, while remote regions are still lacking a sufficient number of air routes. “Formally, the required number of routes is subsidized, Sukhoi Superjet flights are guaranteed, but the route network in regions, which have no alternative to aviation, is practically not developing,” Terentyev said.

Hence, Analytical Center experts believe that the development of the domestic aircraft industry looks like a bigger priority than the provision of transport accessibility of populated localities far from major regional centers and the associated development of domestic tourism.