Sanctions from the European Union, the US, and Canada over Ukraine have already severely curtailed Aeroflot’s international operations. Since Thursday, the airline is also banned from two global distribution networks (GDS). Banning Aeroflot from GDS hurts bookings even more
US-based Sabre and Spain’s Amadeus said on March 3 that they would remove the Russian flag carrier from their systems. This means that travel agencies and corporate businesses will no longer be able to book Aeroflot flights using them. Instead, customers will be forced to book with the airline directly, but the processing of payments will likely be hindered by the blocking of many Russian banks from the international financial system.
Sabre announced on Thursday that it will terminate its distribution agreement with Aeroflot. “We are taking a stand against this military conflict”, CEO Sean Menke said in a media statement. “We are complying and will continue to comply, with sanctions imposed against Russia,” Sabre said that it will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine and Russia. If needed, the company will take additional actions “taking into account legal considerations and any countermeasures that could be implemented in response.”
A little later, Amadeus came with a similar announcement: “In light of the attacks on Ukraine, we immediately stopped any new planned commercial projects in Russia. We will not sign any new contracts in Russia and we continue to evaluate our existing portfolio of work in Russia in parallel.” Amadeus said that it had started suspending Aeroflot’s fares from its system.
Sabre has been a long-term partner of Aeroflot and has helped to fully automate its business processes, together with SAP, Lufthansa Systems, and other partners, the airline said during its 2019 Capital Markets Day. It claimed it ranked fourth behind Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Delta Airlines on the level of digitalization, with more investments planned for the coming years. However, Aeroflot and its subsidiaries Pobeda and Rossiya are not fully reliant on Sabre and Amadeus and also has partnerships with Skyscanner, Momondo, and Aviasales, although they are showing only limited options. Skyscanner isn’t showing any Aeroflot flights anymore.
Since banning Russian airlines from the airspace in the UK, EU, the US, and Canada, Aeroflot’s international network has been reduced to some flights to Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, Male, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and former CIS states. On March 3 and 4, it still operated a few services to Larnaca (Cyprus) and Budapest (Hungary). Russia responded on Wednesday closing its airspace for airlines from 36 countries.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.