Wizz Air has announced new routes to Moscow and St Petersburg from London’s Luton airport.

Both routes will operate daily from October 1, with services to Moscow flying into Vnukovo International Airport, and flights to St Petersburg using the city’s Pulkovo airport. Wizz Air says that lead-in fares on both routes will start from £25.99 each way.

The news follows British Airways’ decision to drop long-standing flights between Heathrow and St Petersburg from October, stating that the route “is no longer commercially viable”.

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Owain Jones, managing director of Wizz Air UK, said:

“Today marks the launch of two of the most exciting routes so far in Wizz Air’s network. For the first time, Wizz Air is giving our customers the chance to travel from the UK to two of Russia’s greatest cities, avoiding high legacy airline prices with our ultra-low fares.

“We’ll be the only UK carrier flying to St Petersburg and on both new routes, our customers will enjoy Wizz Air’s great travel experience on-board Europe’s youngest and greenest aircraft.”

Business Traveller‘s Alex McWhirter comments:

“Whilst I would hope Wizz Air makes a success of these two destinations it is not going to be easy. Already two low-cost carriers (LCCs) have failed in their attempts to serve Russia from the UK.

“Several years ago Easyjet had ambitious plans to serve Moscow from both London Gatwick and Manchester. But both routes were eventually dropped.

“Then last October we reported that Russian airline Podeda was to launch a service from London Stansted to St Petersburg. Although flights did commence as planned, the route survived for just a few months before being withdrawn earlier this year.

“Why do LCCs find it so difficult? Simply because Russia is not a natural LCC market. Their customers tend to want to travel informally and at short notice. They don’t want the bother of obtaining visas.

“Russia’s enormous tourism market from the UK is held back by visa requirements which are both onerous and expensive. In some cases a visa itself might cost more than the return LCC air fare.

“I am told it’s even more difficult for Russians wanting to visit the UK.”

Wizz Air says that it is now the largest operator at Luton airport with over 40 per cent market share. It will be the only airline offering flights from the airport to either Moscow or St Petersburg.