Ukraine Crisis: S7 Airlines Suspended from oneworld Alliance

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – The top executives of the oneworld alliance members reconvene for an out-of-the-ordinary meeting.

This time it’s not to welcome a new carrier in the prestigious alliance. It’s not to sign a new codeshare agreement and not finalize the deal on a new One World alliance branded lounge.

Disciplinary Action for S7…

Moreover, disciplinary action is being taken against Siberia Seven, also known as S7 Airlines.

The airline has been suspended from the alliance. Some have defined it as a ‘private sanction’, while others, like S7, have defined it as a mutual agreement that was stipulated between the alliance and the Russian airline. 

S7 in a recent press conference stated:

“Due to the restriction of international flights, the business interaction between S7 Airlines and the oneworld alliance has been significantly reduced; in this situation, S7 Airlines and oneworld made a joint decision on April 19, 2022, to suspend the agreement.”

The recent suspension from the Oneworld alliance follows Russian carriers being suspended from more than 30 European countries’ airspaces due to the ongoing Ukrainian war. 

As a result of the new ‘mutual agreement’, the Siberian airlines have been canceled from the oneworld alliance website, with no mention of the recent suspension.

How Does This Suspension Affect oneworld Customers?

Moreover, the consequences do not end here, S7 privileges within the alliance are unavailable as of today.

This entails that privileges such as lounge access, priority services, generous baggage allowance, and earning miles with other oneworld alliance members no longer exist.

Moreover, the ability for S7 customers to earn miles on other carriers has been suspended; this includes utilizing miles to redeem reward flights.  

S7 stated it is retaining “the benefits of existing bilateral agreements between S7 Airlines and some partner airlines”, but even that comes with conditions for S7 customers.

Award tickets booked with miles and points on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia have been suspended until further notice.

One carrier stays: Qatar Airways will allow S7 customers to accumulate rewards on their flights however utilizing these points for reward tickets has been suspended in a similar style to other oneworld Carriers. 

S7 commented that “Miles refund requests for flights prior to these dates will be processed within 45 days,” 

Who is S7 Airlines?

The airline was founded in 1957 and later privatized in 1994 during Gorbachev’s Russian economic reforms and then acquired by Vladislav Filev.

Filev was an amateur pilot and entrepreneur who saw, after the fall of the Soviet Union, a gap in the market for a modern airline that would connect Russia with Western Europe and Asia. So, with much determination, Vladislav and his wife created Russia’s most significant private airline.

The airline found its market by retiring aging soviet planes to the graveyard, adopting modern Airbuses and Boeing jets, and painting them in a distinct bright green color.

After the end of the Soviet Union, the Russian middle class was growing, and so was the newly reborn airline. 

After many successful years running the airline under charismatic leadership, the 58-year-old Filev and his wife Natalia died in a single-engine aircraft crash in Germany in 2019. 

Turbulence ahead for S7

When Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022, the airline that Filev and his wife had built found itself self-stuck in a limbo of international sanctions.

The airline had to suspend all international flights.

Moreover, leasing firms wanted their leased planes back, risking having an airline, without planes. Meanwhile, the Russian Government issued a law to re-register all aircraft under the Russian registry. 

The airline was just initiating recovery from the pandemic when the sanctions were imposed. However, the Russian airline had big plans for the summer of 2022.

One was to launch a spin-off low-cost carrier to compete with Aeroflot’s, Pobeda.

Moreover, the airlines planned an aggressive expansion in the German Market and allocated more resources to the Spanish and Italian ones. 

With the high risk that the S7 fleet will be repossessed if it leaves Russian airspace, the plans mentioned above will not happen. The airline will be flying its customers to Russian vacation spots within the Russian region instead.   

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