Aeroflot

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Aeroflot—Russian Airlines
Аэрофлот—Российские авиалинии
Aeroflot Logo en.svg
IATA
SU
ICAO
AFL
Callsign
AEROFLOT
Founded 9 February 1923
Commenced operations 15 July 1923
Hubs Sheremetyevo International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Aeroflot Bonus
Alliance SkyTeam
Subsidiaries
Fleet size 151
Destinations 129
Company slogan Sincerely Yours (Russian: Искренне вашIskrenne vash)
Parent company Government of Russia (51%)
Headquarters Moscow, Russia
Key people Vitaly Savelyev (CEO)
Revenue Increase US$8,13 billion (FY 2012)[2]
Net income Decrease US$166 million (FY 2012)[2]
Employees 30,328 (Aeroflot Group)
Website www.aeroflot.ru

OJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines (Russian: ОАО "Аэрофло́т-Росси́йские авиали́нии", OAO Aeroflot-Rossiyskiye avialinii) (MCXAFLT), commonly known as Aeroflot (English pronunciation: /ˈɛrˌflɔːt/ or Listeni/ˌɛrˈflɔːt/) (Russian: Аэрофлот, English translation: "air fleet"), is the flag carrier[3] and largest airline of the Russian Federation.[4][5][6] The carrier operates domestic and international passenger services, mainly from its hub at Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Aeroflot is one of the oldest airlines in the world, tracing its history back to 1923. During the Soviet era, Aeroflot was the Soviet national airline and the largest airline in the world.[7][8] Following the dissolution of the USSR, the carrier has been transformed from a state-run enterprise into a semi-privatised company which ranked 19th most profitable in the world in 2007.[9] Aeroflot is still considered the de facto national airline of Russia.[10] It is 51%-owned by the Russian Government. As of September 2013, the Aeroflot Group had 30,328 employees.

The company has embarked on a fleet modernisation programme, extensive route restructuring, and an image overhaul. The airline joined SkyTeam in April 2006, becoming the 10th member of the alliance.

History[edit]

Early history of Soviet civil aviation[edit]

An early Soviet poster calling on citizens to buy stock in Dobrolyot.

On 17 January 1921, the Sovnarkom of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic published "About Air Transportation". The document which was signed by Vladimir Lenin set out the basic regulations on air transport over the territory of the RSFSR. The document was significant as it was the first time that a Russian state had declared sovereignty over its airspace. In addition, the document defined rules for the operation of foreign aircraft over the Soviet Union's airspace and territory. After Lenin issued an order, a State Commission was formed on 31 January 1921 for the purpose of civil aviation planning in the Soviet Union. As a result of the commission's plans, Glavvozdukhflot (Chief Administration of the Civil Air Fleet) (Russian: Главвоздухфлот (Главное управление воздушного флота)) was established, and it began mail and passenger flights on the Moscow-Oryol-Kursk-Kharkov route on 1 May 1921 using Sikorsky Ilya Muromets aircraft.[11]:1 This was followed by the formation of Deruluft-Deutsch Russische Luftverkehrs A.G. in Berlin on 11 November 1921, as a joint venture between the Soviet Union and Germany. The company, whose aircraft were registered in both Germany and the Soviet Union, began operations on 1 May 1922 with a Fokker F.III flying between Königsberg and Moscow.[11]:2 The service was initially operated twice a week and restricted to the carriage of mail.[11]:2–3

On 3 February 1923 Sovnarkom approved plans for the expansion of the Red Air Fleet, and it is this date which was officially recognised as the beginning of civil aviation in the Soviet Union. After a resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Enterprise for Friends of the Air Fleet (ODVF) was founded on 8 March 1923, followed by the formation of Dobrolet (Russian: Добролёт) on 17 March 1923. Regular flights by Dobrolet from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod commenced on 15 July 1923. During the same period, an additional two airlines were established; Zakavia being based in Tiflis, and Ukrvozdukhput based in Kharkov.[11]:2 During 1923 an agreement was signed establishing a subdivision of Dobrolet to be based in Tashkent, which would operate to points in Soviet Central Asia. Services between Tashkent and Alma Ata began on 27 April 1924, and by the end of 1924 the subdivision had carried 480 passengers and 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) of mail and freight, on a total of 210 flights.[11]:6 In March 1924, Dobrolet began operating flights from Sevastopol to Yalta and Yevpatoriya in the Crimea. Dobrolet's route network was extended during the 1925–1927 period to include Kazan and regular flights between Moscow and Kharkov were inaugurated. Plans were made for Dobrolet flights to Kharkov to connect with Ukrvozdukhput services to Kiev, Odessa and Rostov-on-Don. During 1925, Dobrolet operated 2,000 flights over a distance of 1,000,000 kilometres (620,000 mi), carrying 14,000 passengers and 127,500 kilograms (281,100 lb) of freight, on a route network extending to some 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi).[11]:7 Dobrolet was transformed from a Russian to an all-Union enterprise on 21 September 1926 as a result of Sovnarkom resolutions, and in 1928 Dobrolet was merged with Ukrvozdukhput; the latter having merged with Zakavia in 1925.[11]:6–7

Formative years[edit]

The Tupolev ANT-20bis was used for cargo flights from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody before World War II

Responsibility for all civil aviation activities in the Soviet Union came under the control of the Chief Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet on 25 February 1932, and on 25 March 1932 the name "Aeroflot" was officially adopted for the entire Soviet Civil Air Fleet.[11]:10 The Communist Party of the Soviet Union Congress in 1933 set out development plans for the civil aviation industry for the following five years, which would see air transportation becoming one of the primary means of transportation in the Soviet Union, linking all major cities. The government also implemented plans to expand the Soviet aircraft industry to make it less dependent on foreign built aircraft;[11]:10–11 in 1930 some fifty percent of aircraft flying services in the Soviet Union were of foreign manufacture.[11]:8

Expansion of air routes which had taken shape in the late 1920s,[11]:8 continued into the 1930s. Local (MVL) services were greatly expanded in Soviet Central Asia and the Soviet Far East,[11]:11–13 which by the end of the second Five-Year Plan in 1937 was 35,000 kilometres (22,000 mi) in length out of a total network of some 93,300 kilometres (58,000 mi).[11]:13 The agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany relating to Deruluft expired on 1 January 1937, and wasn't renewed, which saw the joint venture carrier ceasing operations on 1 April 1937. On that date Aeroflot began operations on the Moscow to Stockholm route, and began operating the ex-Deruluft route from Leningrad to Riga utilising Douglas DC-3s and Tupolev ANT-35s (PS-35s). Flights from Moscow to Berlin, via Königsberg, were suspended until 1940, when they were restarted by Aeroflot and Lufthansa as a result of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and would continue until the beginning of the Great Patriotic War in 1941.[11]:5

An Aeroflot PS-84 (a licence-built DC-3) at Moscow City Airport in 1940. The Lisunov Li-2, a derivative of the DC-3 would become the backbone of the fleet after the Great Patriotic War.

Under the third Five-Year Plan, which began in 1938, civil aviation development continued, with improvements to airport installations being made and construction of airports being commenced. In addition to the expansion of services between the Soviet Union's main cities, local routes (MVL) were also expanded, and by 1940, some 337 MVL routes saw operations on a scheduled basis. Serial production of the PS-84 (licence-built DC-3s) commenced in 1939, and the aircraft became the backbone of Aeroflot's fleet on mainline trunk routes. When the Soviet Union was invaded by Nazi Germany on 22 June 1941, the following day the Sovnarkom placed the Civil Air Fleet under the control of Narkomat, leading to the full-scale mobilisation of Aeroflot crews and technicians for the Soviet war effort. Prior to the invasion, the Aeroflot network extended over some 146,000 kilometres (91,000 mi), and amongst the longest routes being operated from Moscow were those to Tbilisi (via Baku), Tashkent and Vladivostok.[11]:13 Aeroflot aircraft, including PS-35s and PS-43s, were based at Moscow's Central Airport, and amongst important missions undertaken by Aeroflot aircraft and crews included flying supplies to the besieged cities of Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa and Sevastopol.[11]:14 During the Battle of Stalingrad, between August 1942 and February 1943, Aeroflot operated 46,000 missions to Stalingrad, ferrying in 2,587 tonnes (5,703,000 lb) of supplies and some 30,000 troops. Following the defeat of the Wehrmacht, some 80 Junkers Ju-52/3Ms were captured from the Germans, and were placed into the service of the Civil Air Fleet, and after the war were placed into regular service across the Soviet Union.[11]:15 Whilst civil operations in European Russia west of the front line, which ran from Leningrad to Moscow to Rostov-on-Don, were prevented from operating because of the war, services from Moscow to the Urals, Siberia, Central Asia, and other regions which were not affected by the war, continued.[11]:15–16 By the end of the war, Aeroflot had flown 1,595,943 special missions, including 83,782 at night, and carried 1,538,982 men and 122,027 tonnes (269,023,000 lb) of cargo.[11]:16

Post-war operations[edit]

After its introduction in 1954, the Ilyushin Il-14 operated on Aeroflot's All-Union services.

At the end of the war, the Soviet government went about repairing and rebuilding essential airport infrastructure, and it strengthened the Aeroflot units in the European part of the Soviet Union. Aeroflot had by the end of 1945 carried 537,000 passengers, compared with 359,000 in 1940.[11]:16 The government made it a priority in the immediate postwar years to expand services from Moscow to the capital of the Union republics, in addition to important industrial centres on the country. To enable this, the government transferred to Aeroflot a large number of Li-2s, and they would become the backbone of the fleet.[11]:17

The Ilyushin Il-12 entered service on Aeroflot's all-Union scheduled routes on 22 August 1947, and supplemented already existing Li-2 services. The original Ilyushin Il-18 entered service around the same time as the Il-12, and was operated on routes from Moscow to Yakutsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Alma Ata, Tashkent, Sochi, Mineralnye Vody and Tbilisi. By 1950 the Il-18 was withdrawn from service, being replaced by Il-12s.[11]:18,20 MVL and general aviation services received a boost in March 1948, when the first Antonov An-2s were delivered and entered service in Central Russia. Development of MVL services over latter years was attributed to the An-2, which was operated by Aeroflot in all areas of the Soviet Union.[11]:20

Aeroflot's route network had extended to 295,400 kilometres (183,600 mi) by 1950, and it carried 1,603,700 passengers, 151,070 tonnes (333,050,000 lb) of freight and 30,580 tonnes (67,420,000 lb) of mail during the same year. Night flights began in the same year, and the 5th Five-Year Plan, covering the period 1951–1955, emphasised Aeroflot expanding night-time operations, which vastly improved aircraft utilisation. By 1952, some 700 destinations around the Soviet Union received regular flights from Aeroflot.[11]:20 On 30 November 1954, the Ilyushin Il-14 entered service, and the aircraft took a leading role in the operation of Aeroflot's all-Union services. The number of passengers carried in 1955 increased to 2,500,000, whilst freight and mail carriage also increased, to 194,960 and 63,760 tons, respectively. By this time, Aeroflot's route network covered a distance of some 321,500 kilometres (199,800 mi).[11]:21

Aeroflot became the first airline in the world with sustained jet aircraft service, when it introduced the Tupolev Tu-104 in 1956.

The 20th Communist Party Congress, held in 1956, saw plans for Aeroflot services to be dramatically increased. The airline would see its overall activities increased from its then current levels by 3.8 times, and it was set the target of the carriage of 16,000,000 passengers by 1960. In order to meet these goals, Aeroflot introduced higher capacity turbojet and turbine-prop aircraft on key domestic routes, and on services to Aeroflot destinations abroad. A major step for Aeroflot occurred on 15 September 1956 when the Tupolev Tu-104 jet airliner entered service on the Moscow-Omsk-Irkutsk route, marking the world's first sustained jet airline service. The airline began international flights with the type on 12 October 1956 under the command of Boris Bugayev with flights from Moscow to Prague. The aircraft placed Aeroflot in an envious position, as airlines in the West had operated throughout the 1950s with large piston-engined aircraft.[11]:21[12]:44[13] By 1958 the route network covered 349,200 kilometres (217,000 mi), and the airline carried 8,231,500 passengers, and 445,600 tons of mail and freight, with fifteen percent of all-Union services being operated by jet aircraft.[11]:23

Aeroflot introduced the Antonov An-10 and Ilyushin Il-18 in 1959, and together with its existing jet aircraft, the airline was able to extend services on modern aircraft to twenty one cities during 1960.[11]:23 The Tupolev Tu-114, then the world's largest airliner, entered service with the Soviet carrier on 24 April 1961 on the Moscow-Khabarovsk route; covering a distance of 6,980 kilometres (4,340 mi) in 8 hours 20 minutes.[11]:24 The expansion of the Aeroflot fleet saw services with modern aircraft being extended to forty one cities in 1961, with fifty percent of all-Union services being operated by these aircraft. This fleet expansion also saw the number of passengers carried in 1961 skyrocketing to 21,800,000.[11]:24

Aeroflot became the first airline to operate the first regional jet, the Yakovlev Yak-40, in 1968.[citation needed]

Further expansion came in 1962 when both the Tupolev Tu-124 and Antonov An-24 entered regular service with Aeroflot on various medium and short-haul routes. By 1964, Aeroflot operated direct flights from Moscow to 100 cities, from Leningrad to 44 cities, and from Kiev to 38 cities. The airline also operated direct flights from Mineralnyie Vody to 48 cities across the Soviet Union, denoting the importance of the operation of holiday aircraft services to Aeroflot.[11]:26 Statistics for the same year showed Aerfolot operating an all-Union route network extending over 400,000 kilometres (250,000 mi), and carrying 36,800,000 passengers.[11]:27

By 1966 Aeroflot carried 47,200,000 passengers over a domestic route network of 474,600 kilometres (294,900 mi). For the period of the 8th Five-Year Plan, which ran from 1966–1970, Aeroflot carried a total of 302,200,000 passengers, 6.47 billion tons of freight and 1.63 billion tons of mail.[11]:27 During the Five-Year Plan period, all-Union services were extended over an additional 350 routes; an additional 1,000 MVL routes were begun, and 40 new routes were opened up with all-cargo flights.[11]:27–28 The year 1967 saw the introduction into service of the Ilyushin Il-62 and Tupolev Tu-134, and in September 1968 the Yakovlev Yak-40 regional jet began operations on short-haul services. By 1970, the last year of the Five-Year Plan period, Aeroflot was operating flights to over 3,500 destinations in the Soviet Union, and at the height of the 1970 summer holidays season, the airline was carrying approximately 400,000 passengers per day, and some ninety percent of passengers were being carried on propeller-turbine and jet aircraft.[11]:28

Expansion of international flights[edit]

Flag of Aeroflot

In January 1971 the Central Administration of International Air Traffic (Russian: Центральное управление международных воздушных сообщений) (TsUMVS) was established within the framework of IATA, and became the sole enterprise authorised to operate international flights. Abroad, the airline was known as Aeroflot Soviet Airlines. In 1976 Aeroflot carried its 100 millionth passenger. Its flights were mainly concentrated around the Soviet Union, but the airline also had an international network covering five continents: North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The network included countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Cuba, Mexico and the People's Republic of China. Since the 1970s some transatlantic flights were flown using Shannon Airport in Ireland as an intermediate stop, as it was the westernmost non-NATO airport in Europe.[citation needed]

Aeroflot service between the Soviet Union and the United States was interrupted from 15 September 1983 until 2 August 1990, following an executive order by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, revoking the Aeroflot's license to operate flights into and out of the United States following the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 by the Soviet Air Force. At the start of the 1990s Aeroflot reorganised again giving more autonomy to territorial divisions. REG Davies, former curator of the Smithsonian Institution, claims that by 1992 Aeroflot had over 600,000 people operating over 10,000 aircraft.[12]:92,94 By 1967, Aeroflot amassed a fleet equal to that of the largest American carriers combined.[8]

Other functions[edit]

An Aeroflot Mi-10 heavy lift helicopter seen at Groningen Airport in the early 1970s

Aeroflot also performed other functions, including aeromedical, crop-dusting, heavy lifting for the Soviet Space Agency, offshore oil platform support, exploration for natural resources, support for construction projects, transport of military troops and supplies (as an adjunct to the Soviet Air Force), atmospheric research, and remote area patrol. It operated hundreds of helicopters and cargo aircraft in addition to civil airliners. It also operated the Soviet equivalent of a presidential aircraft and other VIP transports of government and communist party officials.[7][12]:94

Aeroflot was also responsible for such services as ice patrol in the Arctic Ocean and escorting of ships through frozen seas, oil exploration, power line surveillance, and transportation and heavy lifting support on construction projects. For the latter tasks, Aeroflot used, in addition to smaller helicopters, the Mi-10 flying crane capable of lifting 11,000 to 14,000 kilograms. Hauling of heavy cargo, including vehicles, was performed by the world's largest operational helicopter, the Mi-26. Its unusual eight-blade rotor enabled it to lift a maximum payload of some twenty tons.[7]

The close relationship between Aeroflot and the Soviet armed forces was underscored by the fact that the minister of civil aviation has been a high-ranking general or marshal of the Air Forces. Most Aeroflot pilots held reserve commissions in the Air Forces. The medium and long-range passenger and cargo aircraft of Aeroflot were also part of the strategic air transport reserve, ready to provide immediate airlift support to the armed forces. Indeed, many aircraft in Aeroflot's inventory were of the same basic design as military aircraft and, even when loaded with bulky cargo and vehicles, were capable of operating from unimproved fields. They were characterized by high wings, low fuselages with cargo/vehicle loading ramps, and landing gear suitable for unimproved or marshy terrain. Short-range airplanes and helicopters were available for appropriate military support missions. Civil aviation also served as a cover for military operations. According to a Western authority, military aircraft belonging to the Military Transport Aviation (Voennaia transportnaia aviatsiia) have been painted in Aeroflot colors for use as food relief and arms or personnel transports to foreign countries.[7]

Aeroflot also cooperated with Soviet intelligence organizations including the KGB, SVR and GRU.[14] The company conducted forcible "evacuations" of Soviet citizens from foreign countries back to the USSR. People whose loyalty was questioned were drugged and delivered unconsciousness by Aeroflot planes, assisted by the company KGB personnel, according to former GRU officer Victor Suvorov.[15] In 1980s and 1990s, specimens of deadly bacteria and viruses stolen from Western laboratories were delivered by Aeroflot to support Russian program of biological weapons. This delivery channel encoded VOLNA ("wave") meant "delivering the material via an international flight of the Aeroflot airline in the pilots' cabin, where one of the pilots was a KGB officer".[14] At least two SVR agents died, presumably from the transported pathogens.[14] When businessman Nikolai Glushkov was appointed as a top manager of Aeroflot in 1996, he found that the airline company worked as a "cash cow to support international spying operations" according to Alex Goldfarb:[16] 3,000 people out of the total workforce of 14,000 in Aeroflot were FSB, SVR, or GRU officers. All proceeds from ticket sales were distributed to 352 foreign bank accounts that could not be controlled by the Aeroflot administration. Glushkov closed all these accounts and channeled the money to an accounting center called Andava in Switzerland.[16] He also sent a bill and wrote a letter to SVR director Yevgeni Primakov and FSB director Mikhail Barsukov asking them to pay salaries of their intelligence officers in Aeroflot in 1996.[16] Glushkov has been imprisoned since 2000 on charges of illegally channeling money through Andava. Since 2004 the company is controlled by Viktor Ivanov, a high-ranking FSB official.

Post-Soviet Aeroflot[edit]

The "winged hammer and sickle" is the most recognisable symbol of Aeroflot.
The "winged hammer and sickle" on an Aeroflot uniform.

In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union underwent massive political upheavals, culminating in the dissolution of the country. Countries declared their independence during January 1990 – December 1991, resulting in the establishment of 15 republics. Up until that time, Aeroflot had been the only establishment providing air services throughout the CIS, but with the breakup of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot branches of these countries began their own services, and the airline itself came under control of Russia, the largest of the CIS republics, and was renamed Aeroflot – Russian International Airlines (ARIA).[17][18][19] Actually, it was in 1992 that Aeroflot was divided into a number of regional airlines,[20] whereas international routes were operated by ARIA.[19] Smaller regional airlines which emerged from the old Aeroflot were sometimes referred to as Babyflots;[17]:2 Bashkirian Airlines, Krasnoyarsk Airlines, Moscow Airways and Tatarstan Airlines were among the carriers that were formed from former Aeroflot directorates.[21]

A new Airbus A321 holds for departure whilst an Ilyushin Il-96 lands at Aeroflot's Moscow-Sheremetyevo hub

In 1994, Aeroflot was registered as a joint-stock company and the government sold off 49% of its stake to Aeroflot employees. During the 1990s, Aeroflot was primarily focused on international flights from Moscow. However, by the end of the decade Aeroflot started an expansion in the domestic market. In 2000 the company name was changed to Aeroflot – Russian Airlines to reflect the change in the company strategy.[22]

Since the dissolution, Aeroflot has been actively working towards promoting and redefining itself as a safe and reliable airline.[23] In the early 2000s, the airline hired British consultants for rebranding.[24] From the start, plans were afoot to replace the old Soviet-era hammer and sickle logo, which some people in the West viewed as a reminder of the Soviet communist era; despite this the logo was not scrapped, as it was the most recognisable symbol of the company for over 70 years.[24] A new livery and uniforms for flight attendants were designed and a promotional campaign launched in 2003. It carried 5.9 million passengers in 2003.[citation needed]

Its fleet has undergone a major reorganisation during which most of the Soviet aircraft were replaced by Western-built jets; costs over fuel consumption rather than safety concerns were cited for such a movement.[25] A320/A319s for short-haul flights in Europe and Boeing 767 and Airbus A330 for long-haul routes had been gradually incorporated into the fleet. In the spring of 2004 an expansion on the domestic market was undertaken, aiming to gain 30% share by 2010 (as of 2006 it held approximately 9%). The first task was to outperform S7 Airlines, a major rival and the leader in the domestic market. On 29 July 2004 a new corporate slogan was adopted: "Sincerely Yours. Aeroflot".[26]

Recent developments[edit]

As of November 2011, Rossiya and four other Russian carriers are owned by Aeroflot through its sister company Aeroflot-Finance.

In April 2006 (2006-04),[27] Aeroflot became the tenth airline worldwide in joining SkyTeam,[28] and the first air carrier in the former Soviet Union that did so.[9] and occupied all of terminal 3 at Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2009.[citation needed] The company has announced its plan to increase cargo operations. It registered the Aeroflot-Cargo trademark in 2006.[29] During that year Aeroflot carried 7,290,000 passengers and 145,300 tons of mail and cargo[30] to 89 destinations in 47 countries.[31] It saw improvements in its earnings and number of passengers carried. The net profit reached $309.4 million (RUB 7.98 billion) in 2006, a 32.3% increase from 2005 earnings of only $234 million (RUB6.03 billion). The revenue for the same 2005–2006 period rose by 13.5% to reach $2.77 billion with an 8.7% gain in passenger numbers.[32]

Aeroflot became the only shareholder of Donavia —a domestic airline then-named Aeroflot-Don[33]— in December 2006 (2006-12), when it boosted its stake in the company from 51% to 100%;[34] soon afterwards, Aeroflot-Nord was created following the buyout of Arkhangelsk Airlines.[35] As of March 2007, Aeroflot was owned by the Russian Government via Rosimushchestvo (51.17%), National Reserve Corporation (27%) and employees and others (19%), and has 14,900 employees.[36]

In February 2010 (2010-02), the Russian government announced that all regional airlines owned by the state through the holding company Rostechnologii would be consolidated with the national carrier Aeroflot in order to increase the airlines' financial viability.[37] The merger was completed in late November 2011 (2011-11); in a deal worth US$81 million, Aeroflot's sister company Aeroflot-Finance became the major shareholder of Vladivostok Avia, Saravia and Rossiya Airlines, and the sole shareholder of both SAT Airlines and Orenair.[38] It was reported in January 2012 (2012-01) that Saravia was sold to private investors, as the recent-acquired regional airline was not in line with Aeroflot's business strategy.[39] It was reported in June 2013 (2013-06) that in the third quarter of the same year Aeroflot would combine its subsidiaries Vladivostok Air and SAT Airlines into a new subsidiary regional carrier based in the Russian Far East.[40] The subsidiary was effectively created in September 2013 (2013-09), and was originally named Taiga Airline;[41] The name of this subsidiary later changed to Aurora Airline.[42] The new company, 51%-owned by Aeroflot, would initially link Moscow with the Russian Far East, whereas SAT Airlines and Vladivostok Avia were expected to cease operations in early 2014.[43]

In June 2013, during the World Airline Awards which took place at the 50th Le Bourget air show, Aeroflot was awarded the international prize as the best air carrier in Eastern Europe.[44] In October, the company introduced an affiliated low-cost carrier (LCC), Dobrolet.[1][45] The LCC started operations in June 2014 (2014-06);[46] they ceased on 4 August 2014 (2014-08-04) owing to EU sanctions over the airline launching flights to Crimea.[47][48] In late August 2014 (2014-08), Aeroflot announced it will launch a new LCC in October 2014 (2014-10); it will replace Dobrolet and will use aircraft transferred from Orenair.[49]

For the year ending 31 December 2013, Aeroflot registered a profit of 7.3 billion roubles, an increase of 41.9% over 2012, partly attributed to an 18.4% rise in passenger traffic to 20.9 million.[50]

In March 2014 as a response to 2014 Ukrainian revolution the company announced rerouting their flights to avoid flying over the territory of Ukraine. The announcement (together with worse than expected financial results) caused an almost 10% drop in the share price of the company.[51][52]

Corporate affairs[edit]

Headquarters[edit]

The light yellow building, 10 Arbat Street, has the headquarters of Aeroflot

The headquarters of Aeroflot are located in Arbat District, Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow.[53] By 2009 Aeroflot began leasing 7,000 square metres (75,000 sq ft) of space from a class A office building on Arbat Street owned by Midland Development. As of that year Aeroflot had plans to build a dedicated 35,000 square metres (380,000 sq ft) headquarters in proximity to Sheremetyevo Airport.[54]

Key people[edit]

As of August 2014, Aeroflot's CEO position was held by Vitaly Savelyev.[49] Savelyev was appointed on 10 April 2009 (2009-04-10) and succeeded Valery Okulov. Expiring in April 2014 (2014-04), The Russian government extended Savelyev's appointment for another five years.[55]

Ownership and subsidiaries[edit]

Aeroflot is 51% state-owned, as of December 2013.[56] As of September 2013, the subsidiary airlines included Aurora, Donavia, Rossiya Airlines and Orenair. At that time, the Aeroflot Group employed 30,328; 17,678 of these people worked for Aeroflot JSC.[57]

Destinations[edit]

Main article: Aeroflot destinations

As of December 2013, Aeroflot operates scheduled passenger and cargo flights from its hub at Sheremetyevo International Airport to 129 airports.[58]

Codeshare agreements[edit]

As of March 2014, Aeroflot has codeshare agreements with the following airlines, which are the actual operators of the codeshared services Aeroflot places its code on:[59]

Fleet[edit]

History and recent developments[edit]

During the Soviet era, almost all Aeroflot's airliners were built by Soviet manufacturers. During the 1940s and the early 1950s, the main aircraft was a licensed version of the Douglas DC-3. Soviet-made, modified versions of this airliner were named the PS-84 and the Lisunov Li-2. The first to be produced in the Soviet Union was completed in 1939. The Li-2 would be replaced by the Ilyushin Il-12, which entered service in 1947, and the Ilyushin Il-14, which entered service in 1954. Aeroflot also operated large numbers of the Antonov An-2 STOL biplane (first flying in 1947), in passenger and cargo roles. The An-2 remained in service until the 1980s.

An Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-104B at Le Bourget Airport in 1974.

Aeroflot began operating the Tupolev Tu-104, reportedly named Silver Arrow,[62] in 1956,[citation needed] with at least three of these machines in service between Moscow and the Russian Far East by June that year.[63] The Tu-104 was the USSR's first jet airliner.[64]:615 The first two routes on which it was deployed were the Moscow–Irkutsk and the Moscow–Yakutsk runs;[62][additional citation needed] in September 1956 (1956-09), the Moscow–Tiflis route became the third scheduled service flown with the aircraft.[65] Likewise, Moscow–Prague was the first international route served with the Silver Arrow.[62]

In 1962, Aeroflot began operating the Tupolev Tu-124, the smaller version of the Tu-104, on regional routes. These were later replaced by the Tupolev Tu-134, which entered service in 1967. Upgraded versions of the Tu-134 still make up much of the Russian regional fleet today. The Tupolev Tu-114, originally used to transport Soviet leaders and once the world's largest commercial aircraft, came into service on 1961-4-24 on the Moscow–Khabarovsk route.[66][67] It also served international routes, such as Moscow–Tokyo in conjunction with Japan Airlines,[68] as well as the Moscow–Havana route, which started on 1963-1-7—the airline's longest non-stop service at that time.[67][69] The first Ilyushin Il-62 long-range four-engined airliner entered service with Aeroflot in 1967, with an inaugural flight from Moscow to Montreal on 15 September.[70] It was complemented, in 1972, by medium-range Tupolev Tu-154. This jet is the most popular Russian airliner, with more than 1,000 made. The Tu-154M variant was delivered to Aeroflot in 1984.[71]

An Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-86 at Fiumicino Airport in 1992.

The carrier started flying the supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 on freighter services in 1975.[72] On 1977-11-1, the aircraft was deployed on the 1,750-nautical-mile (3,240 km; 2,010 mi) long Moscow-DomodedovoAlma-Ata route on a regular basis,[73] yet these services were discontinued in May 1978 (1978-05).[74] That month, an aircraft of the type resulted written off on an emergency landing following an electrical failure, withdrawing political support to the project and putting an end to the production.[75] Despite official versions indicating the indefinite suspension of supersonic flights within the Soviet Union, a re-engined version of the aircraft was put on a test flight between Moscow and Khabarovsk in June 1979 (1979-06),[76] and the 3,750-mile (6,040 km) long route was later covered with scheduled services;[77] it was not a nonstop flight, however, since the aircraft had to make a refuelling stop, as the engines consumed more fuel than expected.[75] First flown in March 1975 (1975-03), the 120-seater Yakovlev Yak-42 entered service with Aeroflot in 1980.[71] The 350-seater Ilyushin Il-86, the first Russian-made wide-body aircraft,[78] had its maiden flight in December 1976 (1976-12),[71][79] and entered scheduled services with the carrier on the Moscow-VnukovoTashkent run in 1981.[80][nb 1] The aircraft was phased out by the end of 2006.[82]

An Aeroflot Boeing 767-300ER in old livery on short final to Sheremetyevo Airport in 2001.

The first Western-made aircraft, the Airbus A310, was incorporated into the fleet in 1992. This milestone also made Aeroflot the first Russian customer for Airbus.[83][84] The first example of the Ilyushin Il-96, which was also the first Soviet fly-by-wire aircraft, had its maiden flight in 1988, and was certificated in December 1992 (1992-12);[81] the first Aeroflot Il-96-300 entered the fleet in 1993,[85] and was initially deployed on the Moscow–New York City route in July this year.[86]:50 Pending approval for an Ex-Im Bank financing package, a contract worth US$1.5 billion for the acquisition of twenty Il-96s, including ten Il-96T cargo aircraft and ten Il-96Ms that were initially slated for delivery between 1996 and 1999, was signed in June 1995 (1995-06).[87] The Ex-Im Bank approved the loan in early 1996.[88] Boeing objected the deal, but the dispute was later settled following an Aeroflot order for ten Boeing 737-400s —placed in April 1997 (1997-04) in a deal worth US$440 million[89]— that were granted a tax exemption by the Russian government; nevertheless, the financing was blocked again when four Boeing 767-300ERs also ordered by Aeroflot were not included in the accorded exemption.[90] The first of these Boeing 767-300ERs was phased-in in August 1999 (1999-08);[91] the airline had taken delivery of the first Boeing 737-400 in May the same year.[92]

The company also became a Boeing customer, acquiring new Boeing 767 jets, in 1994. Since then, Aeroflot has also operated Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s, and the cargo version of the Douglas DC-10s.

From 1998 to 2005, Aeroflot leased two Boeing 777s, using the type on routes to the USA.[93]

In 2006 it leased three used Boeing 767-300ER from ILFC for 5 years. The first two aircraft were delivered in November 2006 and January 2007, the third one was delivered in March 2007. The company had previously leased two Boeing 767-300ER from ILFC.[citation needed] Matters came to a head in September 2006 as Aeroflot's board of directors convened to vote on the Boeing contract. This coincided with the USA imposing sanctions on various Russian companies (including a major aircraft maker, Sukhoi) for allegedly supplying Iran in violation of the US's Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 and with the Russian state-owned Vneshtorgbank buying 5% of the stock in EADS, the corporation behind Airbus. The State's representatives on the board abstained from the vote and another round of lobbying ensued, with Russian news sources reporting Aeroflot's efforts to placate the State by offering to order both 22 Boeing 787s and 22 Airbus 350s, effectively doubling its long-range fleet.[94] Banker Alexander Lebedev, the man behind National Reserve Corporation, reached a deal with Boeing to prolong the deadline, using his corporation's money.[95]

An Airbus A330-200 just departed from Sheremetyevo Airport in 2011.

In March 2007 (2007-03), Aeroflot signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the acquisition of 22 Airbus A350XWBs,[96] and ten Airbus A330-200s.[84][97] The transaction for the A350XWBs was formalised late that year in a deal worth US$3.1 billion.[98] The handover of the first A350XWB was due to take place in 2015.[nb 2] A contract for the acquisition of 22 Dreamliners was signed in June 2007 (2007-06),[100] reportedly consisting of Boeing 787-8s with deliveries starting in 2014;[101] in September the same year, Boeing officially announced that Aeroflot placed an order for these aircraft in a deal worth US$3.6 billion.[102] The A330 order was split into five A330-200s and five A330-300s, scheduled to arrive on an operating lease starting in late 2008. Despite these aircraft having been initially aimed at providing interim capacity ahead of the arrival of both the Airbus A350s and the Boeing 787s the company had previously ordered, the type has been gradually incorporated into the fleet on a long-term basis. The first of these machines in entering the fleet in late 2008 was an Airbus A330-200, and was initially put into service on the Moscow–St. Petersburg route for testing purposes.[103]

An Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 is seen here at Sheremetyevo Airport in 2013.

In May 2007 (2007-05), Finnair announced the sale of its last two self-owned MD-11s to Aeroflot which are thus to become part of the Russian airline cargo fleet in 2008 and 2009.[104] On 2007-12-31, Aeroflot retired the last Tupolev Tu-134 after 40 years in service;[105] the last flight flew the Kaliningrad–Moscow route.[106] Aeroflot was forced to withdraw these aircraft from service due to noise restrictions. Fourteen airplanes comprised the type's fleet by that time; they were offered for sale to the sister companies.[107] The retirement of the last Tupolev Tu-154 occurred on 2010-1-14, after 40 years of service; the last flight the type operated was the Yekaterinburg–Moscow, taking place on 2009-12-31.[108]

In July 2010 (2010-07), Aeroflot announced a new A330 order during the Farnborough Airshow, this time for 11 A330-300s.[109] Also in July 2010 (2010-07), Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin pressured Aeroflot to buy Russian-made aircraft for future expansion and fleet renewal.[110][111] On 1 September 2010, Aeroflot announced that it had plans to order a total of 126 Russian-built aircraft by 2020. The aircraft to be purchased are Irkut MS-21s, Sukhoi Superjet 100s, Antonov An-140s, and Antonov An-148s. The aircraft are to be used for fleet replacement in Aeroflot, as well as six other airlines of which Aeroflot is taking control.[110] In early 2011, the carrier ordered eight Boeing 777-300ERs;[nb 3] later that year the order was boosted to 16 aircraft, adding eight more −300ERs.[115] Aeroflot became the second worldwide operator of the SSJ100 —after Armavia— when Sukhoi delivered the first aircraft of the type to the company in June 2011 (2011-06).[116] The first Boeing 777-300ER was handed over by the airframer on 2013-1-30. Following delivery, it was planned to deploy the aircraft on the Moscow–Bangkok route, yet certification issues postponed these plans for days,[117][118] as permission to operate the aircraft was granted a few days later.[119]

Aeroflot retired its three McDonnell Douglas MD-11Fs from active service in July 2013 (2013-07) citing their operation as no longer profitable.[120]

Current[edit]

An Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER lands at Sheremetyevo Airport in 2013.
An Aeroflot Airbus A321-200 just departed from Sheremetyevo Airport in 2011.
An Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-96-300 departs Sheremetyevo Airport in 2008.

For most of its history, Aeroflot's fleet consisted entirely of planes built by Soviet manufacturers Antonov, Ilyushin, and Tupolev. Following the Soviet Union's dissolution and subsequent partition of the airline, Aeroflot has begun to replace its old Soviet aircraft with Western and modern Russian models.

As of August 2014, the Aeroflot fleet includes the following aircraft:[121]

Aeroflot Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Options Passengers Notes
B W E Total
Airbus A319-100 8 1 20 96 116
Airbus A320-200 63 20 120 140
8 150 158
Airbus A321-200 26 28 142 170
Airbus A330-200 5 34 207 241
Airbus A330-300 17 34 268 302
Airbus A350-800 18[122] TBA
Airbus A350-900 4[122] TBA
Boeing 737-700 15 TBA Expected EIS: 2013;
to be leased from Rostechnology[123][124]
Boeing 737-800 5 20 20 138 158
Boeing 737-900ER 10 TBA
Boeing 767-300ER 1 30 188 218
Boeing 777-300ER 10 6[125] 30 48 324 402
Boeing 787-8 22[114] TBA
Ilyushin Il-96-300 6 22 260 282 Final Service: 30 March 2014 [126]
Irkut MS-21 50[127] TBA
Sukhoi Superjet 100-95 10[128][nb 4] 17 10 12 75 87
Total 151 163 10


Retired[edit]

An Aeroflot Boeing 777-200ER on approach to Sheremetyevo Airport in 2003.
An Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-134 at Sheremetyevo International Airport. (2003)
Aeroflot mainline past fleet since 1954
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A310 1992[84] 2005
Antonov An-2 1948 ?
Antonov An-10 1959 1973
Antonov An-24 1962 ?
Antonov An-124 1980 2000 cargo aircraft
Boeing 737-300 2008 2009 cargo aircraft
Boeing 737-400 1998[92] 2004
Boeing 767-300 1994
Boeing 777-200ER 1998 2005 aircraft leased from Boeing
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1995 2009 cargo aircraft
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F 2008[133] 2013[120] Cargo aircraft
Ilyushin Il-12 1947 1970
Ilyushin Il-14 1954 ?
Ilyushin Il-18 1958 ?
Ilyushin Il-62 1967 2002
Ilyushin Il-76 1979 2004 cargo aircraft
Ilyushin Il-86 1980[79]:67 2006[82]
Tupolev Tu-104 1956 1979
Tupolev Tu-114 1961 1976
Tupolev Tu-124 1962 1967
Tupolev Tu-134 1967 2007[105]
Tupolev Tu-144 1977 1978
Tupolev Tu-154 1968 2009
Tupolev Tu-204 1990 2005
Yakovlev Yak-40 1966 1995
Yakovlev Yak-42 1980[71] 2000

Frequent flyer programme[edit]

Aeroflot Bonus logo

Aeroflot uses Aeroflot Bonus as their frequent-flyer programme. It has three levels:[134]

Aeroflot Bonus Levels
Level Benefits Requirements SkyTeam Status
Regular
  • No benefits on Regular Level
Travelers can start their participation in Aeroflot Bonus Programme from the age of 2 (Aeroflot Junior)  –
Silver
  • Tier Bonus Miles – 25% of the flown distance
  • Preferred Seating
  • Priority Check-In
  • Extra 10 kg baggage allowance or 1 piece on routes where piece concept systems is applicable (Only on Aeroflot regular flights)
  • Boarding with first and business class passengers
  • Priority reservation waitlisting
25,000 miles (40,000 km) or
25 flight segments during calendar year
Elite
Gold
  • Tier Bonus Miles – 50% of the flown distance
  • Priority Check-In
  • The opportunity "Comfort +" is given free of charge[135]
  • Extra 20 kg baggage allowance or 2 piece on routes where piece concept systems is applicable (Only on Aeroflot regular flights)
  • Preferred Seating
  • Lounge Access
  • Invite a traveling companion to Business Class lounges
  • Priority Airport Standby
  • High priority waitlisting (above Silver)
  • Boarding with first and business class passengers
  • Priority Baggage Handling
50,000 miles (80,000 km) or
50 flight segments during calendar year
Elite Plus

Sponsorship and promotion agreements[edit]

As of July 2013, Aeroflot is the official carrier of Manchester United.[136] The agreement is the first ever sponsorship Manchester United has signed with a Russian company.[137]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ It was also reported that the aircraft began scheduled services with Aeroflot in December 1980 (1980-12).[71][79]:67[81]
  2. ^ Delivery has been delayed by three years, with the first aircraft entering the fleet in 2018.[99]
  3. ^ It was initially informed the order consisted of six Boeing 777-300ERs and two Boeing 777-200ERs,[112][113] yet the airline has no −200ERs on order, according to Boeing.[114]
  4. ^ The 10th aircraft of the type was delivered in July 2012 (2012-07);[129] these aircraft will be gradually replaced by new ones having different configurations.[130] Having a single class with 98 seats, Aeroflot took delivery of the first SSJ100 in full specifications in late May 2013 (2013-05).[131][132]

Citations[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

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