Received a question from a partner about domestic flights to and from Yakutsk Airport, Russia.
“Is it true?”
After he copied a message he got:
“You may find these news interesting… The thing that is of particular concern is the scheduled runway repairs at Yakutsk Airport that limit the size of the aircraft that will be able to operate into and out of Yakutsk in 2019. At present time the system shows no aircraft larger than Embraer 170 into or out of Yakutsk all year. This means no non-stop flights to Moscow nor Vladivostok. You will likely be making an extra connection in Novosibirsk en route to Yakutsk, and the flight from Yakutsk…”
Partly, yes. Partly, not true. Ok. Let me explain…
Yakutsk Airport has two runways.
The longest one is, indeed, under repair. As we have a short warm period – from May till September, renovation work, that started this year, was split into a few stages. Last summer 970 m was managed to complete. The runway length is 3398.5 m. More likely, the next year will be totally dedicated to repair work.
The other runway is short and can accept aircrafts no larger than BOEING 737. It means Boeing 737 and middle size planes like Sukhoi SuperJet might fly to/from Yakutsk Airport easily.
By the way, keep in mind that Yakutsk is not yet connected with the Russian railway network. By air is the only way to get in and out of the city as quick as possible. I believe, adventure travelers on holidays might afford to spend 14 days driving between Moscow and Yakutsk and covering 8370 km overland. Majority prefer to do everything quick and in comfort and, definitely, by plane.
Yakutsk Airport accepts planes from major Russian cities daily!
Winter & Summer Timetable
Please, be aware of the fact that in Russia we use such terms as “winter timetable” and “summer timetable”.
This time, Yakutsk Airport has got winter schedule from October 28th till March 31st and the summer one from April 1st till the end of October accordingly.
Prior to each season, a Russian air company approves its own timetable.
If a company is big and a member of an international airline alliance, it tends to have the confirmed flight schedule a year ahead. They are S7 (a member of OneWorld) and Aeroflot (SkyTeam).
S7 and Aeroflot are pretty good for international flight connection. In Moscow, S7 uses Domodedovo as a hub, Aeroflot Sheremetyevo. So, if you are a true early bird, you can go on their websites www.s7.ru and www.aeroflot.ru, and check what they’ve got for the upcoming summer.
If a company is middle sized like Yakutia (www.yakutia.aero) and Nordwind (www.nordwindairlines.ru), precise season timetable might appear 2-3 months before the start of a season.
Small air companies Polar Airlines (www.polarair.ru) or IrAero (www.iraero.ru) and Angara (www.angara.aero) set schedules a month before. They are partly supported by regional budgets, and they need to have support, first, and after decide, how many flights they can afford themselves.
The existence of summer & winter timetables is a major reason why you might see not so many flights to/from Yakutsk, Russia, in the summer of 2019 and think there’s no non-stop flights to my lovely city from Moscow and Vladivostok.
UPDATE, 16 Dec 2018: Last week Aeroflot renewed direct flights from Moscow to Yakutsk, and tickets for summer flights are available for purchase as well.
Flights Moscow to Yakutsk and vice versa
As of November 2018, the following airlines do flights to/from Yakutsk.
Yakutia Airlines conducts 2 direct flights daily, even on Sunday. It uses Boeing 737. From time to time, it practices delays. Have no idea, why.
S7 does 2 flights daily but with plane change or refuel in Novosibirsk (Tolmachevo Airport).
S7 was formerly known as Siberia Airlines and originated in Novosibirsk. So, it uses its own base Tolmachevo as a perfect hub. Flight connection takes ±1 hr. For transit passengers there is no need to recheck themselves and luggage. To me, to have a short break en route is much better than to sit 7 hr immovably on the same seat.
UPDATE, 18 Dec 2018: S7 Airline confirmed that it is going to renew direct flights from Moscow (Domodedovo) to Yakutsk in February 2019, and it will use Airobus A321.
Nordwind Airlines… It’s the first time when Nordwind decided to fly to Yakutsk. Nevertheless, it flies from Sheremetyovo (Moscow) to Yakutsk 3 times a week – non-stop on Friday, through Novosibirsk on Tuesday and through Krasnoyarsk on Thursday. If from Yakutsk, the same routes, you need to add +1 day.
Aeroflot didn’t plan to fly to Yakutsk this winter, because the company prefers to use big aircrafts like Boeing 747 and be in profit. Small aircrafts I guess was out of its interest. Besides, it should negotiate with an airport in the middle of flight route, which can be used if any emergency happens. Middle-located airports usually try to raise its service costs, what Aeroflot doesn’t like.
UPDATE, 02 Nov 2018: Good news arrived yesterday. Yakutia’s head Aisen Nikolaev announced that he convinced Aeroflot restart its flights from Moscow to Yakutsk and the air company confirmed that it would do it since December 1st, 2018.
Ok. Now we need to wait for its schedule to appear. I guess, they would have also a refuel stop in one of Siberian cities. More likely, it will be Krasnoyarsk or Novosibirsk.
Last week, Aeroflot announced that it has a plan to set up four regional hubs for domestic flights, precisely in such cities as Sochi, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk.
UPDATE, 01 Dec 2018: Aeroflot does direct flights from Moscow to Yakutsk!
Flights Ural/Siberian/Far Eastern cities to Yakutsk
Let’s get back to the question.
There are direct flights from Vladivostok to Yakutsk. In the wintertime, they are done by Yakutia Airlines.
Non-stop flights are also done from Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Chita, Magadan. You need to check with other airlines apart from two major ones.
Which airline is reliable?
This question is pretty tricky.
If you mean winter flights, here’s my lifehack.
Choose the one which arrives in Yakutsk after sunset and before sunrise. In other words, in darkness.
When it’s dark, the runway is visible in lights.
In the daytime, thick fog might happen and the city is hidden and hard to spot. Very often, the mist becomes a reason of flight delays, or it might cause the planes to divert to other Russian cities like Neryungri, Khabarovsk or even Magadan.
Which airline is better?
To me, the best one is the airline that might offer free movies onboard. To sit 7 hours is a real challenge.
If you are flying from abroad, the best would be the one providing a good connection with international flights.
If different air companies are the only option, try to choose the same airport for international and domestic flights.
When you deal with Siberia, reserve one extra day in your itinerary. Siberia is still Siberia!