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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sibir Joins Aeroflot on Top 50 List

Russia's No. 2 airline, Sibir, has joined flagship carrier Aeroflot on the list of the world's top 50 airlines -- but just barely.

New data from the Geneva-based International Air Traffic Association puts Sibir at No. 50 among domestic carriers in the world, based on the number of kilometers it carried its passengers.

Sibir, which flew 1.9 million passengers a total of 2.6 billion kilometers domestically last year, came in 14 notches below Aeroflot, which posted 3.8 billion passenger-kilometers in 2001.

Aeroflot carried 5.8 million passengers last year, up 14 percent on the year.

Showing immunity to the global slump in air traffic in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in America, Russian airlines carried 14.8 percent more passengers last year than in 2000, hauling a total of 25 million passengers.

Aeroflot ranked No. 30 for international routes, with 14 billion passenger-kilometers, and No. 35 overall, with domestic and international traffic of 18 billion passenger-kilometers. America's United Airlines topped IATA's overall ranking with 187 billion passenger-kilometers, followed by American Airlines, Delta, Northwest and British Airways.

IATA, founded in 1919, unites 280 airlines that collectively account for 95 percent of all international scheduled air traffic.

"This was slightly unexpected for us, but reflects the amount of work we are doing," Sibir spokesman Mikhail Koshman said by phone from Novosibirsk, the company's hub, on Tuesday.

Domestic operations account for 60 percent of Sibir's business. According to the company's own data, the carrier increased its passenger turnover on domestic routes by 49 percent in the first half of this year. The total number of passengers carried by Sibir jumped 57.6 percent to 1.08 million passengers over the same period.

Industry analysts were not surprised at Sibir's success.

"Sibir is firmly holding to the No.2 position [among Russian carriers] on both domestic and international operations, taking into account its expansion and earlier merger with Vnukovo airlines," said Yelena Sakhnova of United Financial Group.