In the Face of Collapse, Russian Aviation Seeks Aid from Iran

Loudening Signals of Economic Distress

Shankar Narayan

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Russia’s civil aviation sector is on the verge of collapse (Licensed Image)

The fastest flight between Kaliningrad and Vladivostok takes 12 hours and ten minutes. A domestic flight from the eastern edge to the western edge of Russia would cover an immense distance, as Russia is the largest country in the world by land area, stretching across Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.

The Russian Federation is the largest aviation market in Europe by the number of seats and carried 96.9 million passengers in 2021.
Russia is enormous, and so is the influence of its aviation industry on the economy. The following data from IATA, (far more reliable than the numbers presented by the Russian agencies), shows the value of the industry’s contribution to the Russian economy.

  • The air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain, are estimated to support US $19.1 billion of GDP in the Russian Federation.
  • Spending by foreign tourists supports a further US $3.6 billion of the country’s GDP, totaling to US $22.7 billion.
  • In total, 1.8 percent of the country’s GDP is supported by inputs to the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air.

More than a million Russians were employed in the sector before the war. A lot of hands and legs for a country with a 66 million Russians in the working age.

The Russian aviation industry, which is still an integral part of the Russian economy, is teetering on the edge of a collapse.

In a daring hacking operation, Ukraine’s intelligence service pierced the digital veil of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, unveiling a concerning narrative of aviation turmoil. The hack yielded a cascade of secret documents, revealing troubling trends in Russian civil aviation. The data, stretching over 18 months, unveiled a steep rise in air accidents, with incidents tripling compared to the previous year.

Leading the list of problematic aircraft was the Sukhoi Superjet, plagued by numerous technical glitches. The situation was exacerbated by the sanctions-induced scarcity of spare parts, forcing a desperate resort to ‘aircraft cannibalism’, where you rip apart some planes and…

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Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.