Russian’s largest travel search engine, Aviasales, which lets consumers find cheap flights and holiday accommodation online or via its apps (operating under the JetRadar brand outside Russia), has bagged a $10 million investment from iTech Capital, which is taking a minority stake in the company.
iTech Capital’s Managing Partner Gleb Davidyuk and Investment Manager Ilya Balandin have both joined Aviasales’ board. It’s the first external investment for Aviasales.
Aviasales said the new funding will be spent on developing its service, expanding its team and promoting “key products” — namely its two search engines (both its Russian market product, and the international offering), as well as funneling money into a Hotellook hospitality project, with the eponymous Russian hotel price comparison service; and a Travelpayouts affiliate network.
In its home market of Russia, Avisales competes (and beats) the likes of SkyScanner, Kayak and Momondo. Its travel metasearch offering gets more than 4 million monthly unique visitors, making more than 500,000 search queries for tickets per day. Aviasales compares prices across more than 100 ticket agencies and more than 60 airline carriers.
Internationally, the company competes as JetRadar, currently in 13 markets outside Russia, including recently launching a Thai version of the service. It says more than one billion fliers use JetRadar annually, with the most active markets being the U.K., Germany and Australia.
“The money will be definitely spent on JetRadar expansion and product localization, specifically huge project is Asian expansion (for example Thailand, where Aviasales HQ is located, doesn’t have any popular service for travel price comparison yet),” the company told TechCrunch.
“The expansion will be based on Travelpayouts partner program development that helps to attract local webmasters to promote the service. Also the money will be spent on Aviasales marketing in Russia and HotelLook product development.”
“Partnering with iTech Capital will allow us to keep up the growth pace on a highly competitive market. At the moment Aviasales is growing by more than 100% a year,” added Aviasales founder, Konstantin Kalinov, in a statement.
“Aviasales is a very popular service that lets people compare flights and hotel offers quickly and easily from various sources, including airline and hotel sites,” said iTech Capital’s Investment Manager Ilya Balandin in a supporting statement. “By investing in Aviasales, we expect synergy with our other online marketing and booking assets to improve growth.”
According to the Federal Agency of Air Transport, the Russian passenger air travel market grew by 14.2% in 2013 to more than 84.5 million fliers. And some RUB 240 billion worth of online tickets and hotel reservations were sold.