Air transport accounts for the largest share of passenger turnover compared to other modes of transport, which makes it of particular importance in Russia. The strategic goals to develop the regional airport network, which are fixed by Presidential Decrees No.204 of 2018 and No.474 of 2020, as well as the recent external shock – the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in an 85% decrease of domestic air traffic – explain the relevance of studying the factors which affect the development of regional markets for air passenger traffic. The aim of the study is to analyze the determinants of the spatial distribution of air passenger flows in Russia. This research applies a number of scientific methods, such as synthesis, analysis, induction, deduction, etc. It also entails the analysis of relevant literature and open statistical sources, and applies spatial econometrics models to take into account the geographical distribution of air passenger flows. The results of the study are conclusions about the impact of regional socioeconomic characteristics as well as spatial interdependence on the volume of air passenger traffic. The model estimates indicate that the actual distribution of regional air traffic is subject to a gravity mechanism. What is more, the spatial heterogeneity of the passenger traffic distribution has been confirmed. One of the major characteristics of the current network configuration in Russia is the pronounced star-shaped structure of air traffic: in 2009-2018 up to 95% of the total passenger traffic from the Russian regions passed through the Moscow hub, whereas the regional opportunities to generate passenger flows bypassing Moscow were limited. According to the scenario analysis, which was carried out to estimate the potential effects resulting from stimulation of air passenger traffic, the strongest effect on the air traffic is provided by stable regional economic growth. This effect becomes even more pronounced if the measure is combined with the support of air carriers through reduction of flight service costs and stimulation of consumers’ demand through subsidies. Further research is aimed at a more detailed scenario analysis of possible effects resulting from the optimization of the regional airport network in Russia.