Aeroflot has released passenger figures for the first six months of 2020, revealing the stark toll taken by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Group passenger traffic fell by 89 per cent in the second quarter.
The biggest decrease occurred in April, when the group carried just 229,000 passengers, against 4.5 million before the pandemic.
As restrictions started to be lifted and the domestic market began to see a gradual, the group carried 1.2 million passengers in June.
Andrey Chikhanchin, Aeroflot deputy chief executive for commerce and finance, said: “In the second quarter of 2020, and above all in April and May, most of Aeroflot Group’s fleet was grounded following Covid-related restrictions, while the aircraft that continued flying operated with significantly reduced flight hours.
“The group’s extensive route network was significantly reduced, and we only operated flights essential to maintaining transport accessibility in the Russian regions and to supply much-needed medical equipment and medicines.”
Chikhanchin explained cargo had proved to be a lifeline for the airline.
He added: “With almost no revenue from passenger transportation we needed to think out of the box.
“Given strong demand for cargo services we reoriented a number of wide-body aircraft to carry cargo, resulting in strong cargo revenue, which was up 64 per cent in second quarter year-on-year.”
As part of its efforts to secure financing, Aeroflot Group requested government support.
In June, the flag-carrier received RUB70 billion worth of state guarantees, which helped the company to obtain long-term loans with five-year terms.
“Despite the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry we are starting to see a gradual recovery across various segments, albeit in a new reality,” added Chikhanchin.
In July and August domestic operations continued to recover.
The Russian flag-carrier will be a key partner for the World Travel Awards Grand Final, which is scheduled to take place in Moscow on November 27th.