Aeroflot suspends ticket sales for international flights until August, credit rating downgraded
Aeroflot has announced that it has cancelled sales of tickets for international flights until August 1st. Speaking to reporters, Aeroflot spokeperson Yulia Spivakova stated that tickets will remain suspended until the “resumption of international air service becomes certain”, referring to the international flight ban which Russia imposed effective March 27 onwards in an effort to counter the spread of current COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing the need to constantly cancel and rebook passengers' flights, she reiterated that this would not mean flights will inevitably be cancelled during that period.
“That is a technical decision, which does not mean virtual cancellation of flights. It has been taken to avoid additional burden on our contact center and sales offices due to more and more rebooking cycles. One shouldn’t look for outlooks on international flights resumption in that decision”, Spivakova added.
According to the Kommersant Daily, the Moscow-based airline is only selling tickets for travel from August 1st onwards. The current situation has also impacted the low-cost subsidiary of the airline, Pobeda, forcing it to cancel all flights until at least May 31.
While battling with the effects of the current pandemic, Aeroflot’s long-term credit rating was also downgraded from “BB” to “BB-“ by the American credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings.
The agency notes the effort in managing its liquidity and also expects that the airline “will reduce operating expenses and manage working capital outflows”.
In response to the ratings, Aeroflot’s Deputy CEO for Commerce and Finance, Andrey Chikhanchin, stated that: “The company's downgrade is in line with previous decisions made by rating agencies regarding the sector in general and specific airlines in particular, reflecting the extremely difficult situation in the global aviation industry. Notably, the ratings of US and European companies, as well as budget airlines that traditionally have higher financial stability, were lowered. We continue to work actively to maintain liquidity and reduce costs and expect active domestic market recovery”.
Aeroflot has only been operating repatriation flights to fly back stranded Russian citizens overseas while also operating a limited number of domestic flights since the suspension of international flights by the Russian Government took effect.