Green livery, OneWorld and a space program? Yeah, all of this is S7.
Started from the bottom USSR
Source: Remi Dallot on jetphotos
It all started in 1992 with the Russian government starting the airline under the name “Siberia airlines”, based on the Tolmachevo air unit. Initially, Siberia airlines only operated regional flights on soviet planes from the capital of Siberia - Novosibirsk. In 1994, the airline was privatized, and shortly after the airline started rapidly expanding it’s route network. At the same time first international flights to Germany and China start to fly, with charter destinations like Dubai, Turkey and Cyprus soon joining the list.
In 1998, the airline again starts rapidly expanding, but this time domestically, opening 5 more hubs around Siberia. 3 years later, in 2001 after the bankruptcy and acquisition of Vnukovo airlines, expansion from Moscow is started, but a year later upper management decides to move to Domodedovo airport - Moscow’s most modern airport at the time.
New whip, new paint, new name
Source: Mario Aurich on jetphotos
In 2002, a green light was given to the fleet modernization program, with the first aircraft, an airbus A310, going into service in 2004. In 2005, the company went through a massive restructuring and rebranding, changing the name to S7 airlines, getting the new green livery and forming S7 group. The same year, the first 737-500 came, and 2 years later fresh A319’s joined the regional fleet. Also in 2007 they’ve made an order for 15 dreamliners, but then, as we all know, banks, as usual did their thing and the economy went on a downward spiral, so 2 years later the order was canceled. In 2008, S7 finally said goodbye to it’s soviet birds, becoming your usual boeing/airbus airline, and started it’s holiday oriented airline - Globus airlines. The same year, they tried to buy 43% of Austrian airlines, but their papers weren’t ready in time, so Lufthansa bought it instead.
At the same time, S7 started investing into digitalization and getting cool badges. In 2005, they were the first airline in Russia to provide electronic booking, and 2 years later they were also the first to implement electronic tickets. At the same time, new planes improved their safety rating, although it was already good with only 1/3 crashes not being related to explosives. Anyways, in 2007, after lots of inspections and stuff, S7 got itself into IOSA - the IATA’s list of very safe airlines.
In 2010, S7 and it’s subsidiary - Globus airlines - joined Oneworld alliance, which quickly led them to massively expand it’s codeshare base. Also, remember Russian government? Well it turns out all this time they still had a quarter of the company. In 2011, they’ve tried to sell it, but no one wanted it, however, 2 years later, buyers finally came, and after some bidding S7 group won it’s other half quarter.
So as we all know there was a bit of a situation in Crimea around 2014 and, you know, it was a disaster for Russian aviation: ruble fell substantially, sanctions rolled in, oh also the first caused a substantial dip in tourist numbers. Adding to the armageddon, Ukraine banned all Russian airlines from it’s airspace, which meant substantial losses in routes department and more fuel to pack to avoid it on certain flights. Luckily, because of aircraft deliveries and vast domestic network, S7 managed to make through this crisis pretty well, only getting rid of globus’s 737-400s.
Time to grow.
Source: Kirill Vinogradov on jetphotos
In 2016, S7 finished with the crisis and started to work on further expansion, starting with aircraft orders. That year, S7 ordered 5 A320NEOs, 6 737-8 and leased 17 ERJ170 from GECAS. But someone needed to fly these birds, so marketing became a great focus, and you’ve probably noticed that. Remember that treadmill guys named OKGO? In 2016 they’ve shot a music video in zero gravity, and guess which airline’s cabin the set was modeled from? Yep, S7.
Source: S. Kustov on jetphotos
In 2017, the first ERJ170 came, and would you look at that - the same Landor studio that designed the initial livery changed it up again. The same year 16 other ERJs came, the first A320NEO and 737-8 came, although we all know how the last one went. However, also in 2017 they’ve got rid of their leased 767-300s - the only long haul aircraft they had, and so now they don’t have any long haul aircraft. In 2018, as you probably remember, world cup came to Russia, and so the numbers skyrocketed, but other than that pretty boring year for S7. In 2019 though, on June 15th specifically, one of the shiny A320 NEOs upped the fleet count into 3-digit numbers.
Continuing on that tech innovation trend, in 2017 S7 and alfa bank launched a company wide blockchain network based on the etherium cryptocurrency, which helped speed up banking-related processes around the company. But then, later that same year, they moved to Hyperledger Fabric (idk what it is, don’t ask), which gave them more flexibility and control other the beast. As of 2019, more than 300 million rubles went through this system, and, as they say, it is only the start. Currently they are working on moving fuel contracts to blockchain, with the final goal being moving most of the transactions to it. You can go to sources and look at the diagrams if you’re interested, the are in English.
Source: KomradAlexey on jetphotos
In 2019, as Siberian forests became a burning inferno, S7 decided to, for some time, bring back the “Siberia” brand and even wrapped one of their A320s in it. Every time a ticket was bought, some of the cost went to a fund to plant 1 million trees. Additionally, people could have just donated directly, without flying anywhere. Once the magical 1 million trees mark was reached, everything returned to the good old new S7 brand, however the “siberia” livery still flies today.
How’s the COVID situation though? Well, Ukraine was already cut off and, you know, Russia has 11% of the world’s land, so it’s fine. The only thing that happened is that Globus merged with S7, but as far as consumers will be concerned nothing has changed.
ADs, marketing and all of that.
Why dedicate a section to their ads? Because they are a piece of art. We’ve talked about the OKGO vid, but there is actually more ads to enjoy, so here are my personal favorites:
AD break you don't wanna miss
- Not your airport’s usual baggage football - YouTube
- AD about how beautiful our blue ball really is, narrated and, in the end, shot by a cosmonaut on ISS - YouTube
- Kids think something doesn’t exist, then it turns out it kinda does. Very cute and beautiful. - YouTube
- A show for aliens. Yep, a show for aliens. - Youtube (playlist)
- A320 NEO introduction. DJ, light show, bar for the journalists and a giant wall of light behind the plane. Should watch it only to try to figure out how the plane got past the wall. (Russian) - YouTube
- Top comment - a giraffe out of steel pipes has a more interesting life than you have. - youtube
How’s the safety?
Pretty good actually. Throughout the years, only 3 aircraft were lost, and only 1 was at least in some way pilot’s fault.
- On October 4th, 2001 during naval training Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile shot down their TU154 heading to Tel Aviv. 0/78
- On August 24th, 2004 2 planes which departed from Domodedovo were almost simultaneously blown up, one of which was siberia’s TU154. 0/46 | Further reading
- On June 9th, 2006 their A310 overrun the runway at Irkutsk airport due to engine 1 going into full thrust instead of reverse because of strange on-board computer’s logic and pilots not correcting it in time. 78/203
Wait but you said something about space
Yep, I really did. So it isn’t much, but, I mean, they bought a cosmodrome on a ship, plan to build rocket engines and then rockets. The only thing that had results for now is their program to handle launches of Soyuz rockets from Baykanur cosmodrome and they’ve managed to launch one in 2017.