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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Airlines See Passengers Down 20%

The country’s airline industry saw passenger numbers slump by nearly a fifth in the first six months of 2009, although the depth of the slowdown eased in June, the Federal Air Transportation Agency said Wednesday.

Russians are tightening their belts because of rising unemployment and lack of confidence, while a weaker ruble has made foreign holidays less affordable than last year. Some airlines are struggling with losses, starting restructuring talks or are close to bankruptcy.

Recent economic data suggest, however, that the worst of the slowdown may have passed, and airline figures support this.

In June, national airlines carried 4.6 million passengers — 13.4 percent less than in the same period of 2008 but an improvement on the 16.3 percent year-on-year slump seen in May.

Month on month, passenger traffic actually increased 26.2 percent, reflecting the start of the holiday season.

For the first six months of the year, airlines carried 18.75 million passengers, down 18 percent compared with 2008.

The five major players including state-controlled flag carrier Aeroflot, Transaero, S7, Rossia and UTair carried 10.37 million passengers in June, with S7 suffering the sharpest decline of 33 percent in passenger traffic.

Aeroflot, the biggest Russian airline, saw a 12 percent drop in passenger numbers in the first half of the year.