Number of plane crash deaths in Russia hits decade low in 2023

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 10:17 AM

(Reuters) – The number of people killed in plane crashes in Russia dropped to a decade low in 2023, despite Western sanctions on Russia’s aviation industry which had raised concerns about flight safety, according to new data.

Sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine include a ban on the supply of spare parts and services for Russian airlines.

But even as Russian planemakers scramble to plug the gap left by foreign manufacturers, data from the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) that oversees accident investigations, showed that 2022 and 2023 were the safest years in the last decade.

There were 11 deadly accidents in Russia in 2023 which killed a total of 20 people, four fewer than the figure for 2022, the IAC said in a report.

The IAC’s data does not include the death of mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose plane crashed in August 2023, killing all 10 people on board.

The Kremlin said a week afterwards that investigators were considering the possibility that Prigozhin’s plane was downed on purpose, but the results of their probe have not been published.

In a disclaimer, the IAC said incidents where “illegal interference” with civilian aircraft had taken place were not included.

Around 966,000 flights took off in Russia last year, down from a pre-pandemic high of 1.12 million in 2019, according to Russia’s aviation watchdog Rosaviatsiya. The total number of passengers carried was 105.4 million in 2023.

At least 30 people were killed in plane crashes in Russia each year from 2014 to 2021, said the IAC, which works across a grouping of former Soviet republics, including Russia. The deadliest year was 2018 when 128 people died in aviation accidents.

The IAC did not publish a report for 2019, the year when a Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet crashed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, killing 41 people.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Alexander Marrow and Ros Russell)