I think you’re all right – it’s a combination of factors. Inward travel has dwindled as the economic opportunities have dried up, as the sanctions and the low oil price has hit and the welcome towards foreigners has become more lukewarm – coupled with those avoiding the place for reasons of principle. But equally, outbound business but even more so outbound leisure has been hit by the same economic woes and the impact on the Rouble.
The impact this has had on airlines has been clear on these pages – foreign carrier after carrier has been reducing capacity or cutting routes altogether. The airlines have had to be bailed out – and Transaero still went bust. Aeroflot has been pricing very competitively for (non-Russia) transfer traffic to make up for the drop in Russian O/D traffic – but I doubt this will be sustainable in the medium term – and they’ve also had to start pruning their services. I think it could be a while before the Russian aviation sector begins to recover.
If nothing else, this episode reminds us how vulnerable the airline industry is to the wider political and economic context and decisions entirely beyond its control.