Nordwind Airlines was formed only in August 2008 by the Russian and Turkish company Pegas Touristik with an eye on a portion of the large international charter and scheduled market between Russia and hot destinations in the Mediterranean.
Operations began with a trio of Boeing 757s from a Moscow Sheremetyevo base, but expansion in the first five years was impressive so that by the end of 2013 it was carrying well over 3 million passengers a year. From 3 destinations the route map grew to 97 cities in 26 countries in four continents.
By the end of March 2011 it had already become the 5th largest Russian airline (behind Aeroflot, Transaero, S7 and UTair) carrying 303,602 passengers in 3 months, representing a year on year growth of nearly 48%. Even more impressively its passenger load factor was an excellent 93.5%. In July Nordwind received its 5th 767-300 (alongside 8 757s) and later in the year it undertook an agreement with MCAP to lease a pair of Airbus A321s.
A major step forward was the acquisition of a trio of used Boeing 777-200ERs. Two of the aircraft joined in April 2013 on lease from ILFC and both were ex-China Southern frames. VP-BJB was previously B-2062 delivered to CZ in February 1998 and operated for 6 years as N688CZ. She has since been joined by a third GE engine 777 in the form of another ILFC leased aircraft, this time a former Aeroflot and Vietnam example.
The A321s began to gradually replace the 757s though by the time of the delivery of the 8th A321 in December 2013 4 757s remained in operation. In 2013 Nordwind tookover Ikar Airlines based in the east at Krasnoyarsk and subsequently rebranded it as Pegas Fly. Several of its 757s were leased to Pegas Fly and this pattern has continued in recent years. In early 2014 Nordwind outlined its plans to begin international scheduled operations and in March it signed an agreement to lease four 737-800s. At this time the fleet stood at an impressive 51 aircraft with a 69% increase on passenger numbers between 2012 and 2013.
As with Transaero the economic crisis in Russia caused by the low oil price and sanctions imposed as a result of the war in Crimea had a disproportonate impact on international leisure travel, which is the core of Nordwind's business model. Its January-July passenger numbers fell by more than 40% between 2014 and 2015 dropping it to 8th place amongst Russian airlines. Fortunately for Nordwind the failure of Transaero can only benefit its own survival and the removal of the number 2 airline in the country, which was heavily invested in exactly the markets Nordwind flies, must surely guarantee its survival.
Nonetheless as of March 2016 the Nordwind fleet has been reduced significantly from its peak and consists of only 10 aircraft (4 A321s, 2 737-800s, 1 767-300 and 3 777s). Seven aircraft remain in storage (4 A321s, 1 737-800 and 2 767-300s) whilst the Pegas Fly fleet consists of 8 ex-Nordwind aircraft (3 737-800s and 5 767-300s).
2011, May. Strong Russian growth story continues in 1Q2011, CAPA
2014, March. Nordwind to acquire four new 737-800s. World Airlines News
2015, September. Russian market set for changes as Aeroflot to absorb Transaero Airlines; fastest-growing Russian airports and airlines revealed. Anna Aero
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: