literally "air fleet"), is the Russian national airline and is
the biggest carrier in Russia. It is a member of the Sky Team Alliance. It
was also the national airline of the Soviet Union and was once the largest
airline in the world. It is based in Sheremetyevo International Airport in
Moscow, Russia (with corporate headquarters located next to Aerostar
Hotel, central Moscow). As of 2005, Aeroflot serves over 80 foreign
destinations in almost 50 countries.
- Russian Airlines
||Sheremetyevo Int'l Airport
|Frequent flyer program
||First Class Lounge (no member lounges)
||Aeroflot - Russian Airlines
||Valery Okulov (Chairman)
In 1921, shortly after the end of the Russian civil war, the new
government established the Chief Administration of the Civil Air Fleet to
oversee budding air transport projects. One of its first acts was to help
found Deutsch-Russische Luftverkehrs (Deruluft), a joint
German-Russian venture to provide air transport from Russia to the West.
Domestic air service began around the same time, when Dobrolet was
established on 9 February 1923. It started operations on 15 July 1923
between Moscow and Nizhni Novgorod. In 1932 all civil aviation activities
were consolidated under the name of Grazhdanskiy Wozdushnyy Flot
(Civil Air Fleet), known simply as Aeroflot. International flights started
in 1937; before that date they had been carried out by Deruluft. By the
end of the 1930s Aeroflot had become the world's largest airline.
During the Soviet era Aeroflot was synonymous with Russian civil
aviation. One of the rare examples of Soviet commercial advertisement was
Aeroflot's slogan, "Fly on Aeroflot planes!" ("Летайте
The irony was that Aeroflot had no competitors and it was virtually
impossible for an average Soviet citizen to fly on a non-Aeroflot plane.
The advertisement was intended to entice people into using Aeroflot
instead of cheaper though much slower long-distance trains.
In January 1971 the Aeroflot Central Administration of International
Air Traffic was established within the framework of IATA, and became the
industry's sole enterprise authorised to operate international flights.
Abroad, the airline was known as Aeroflot Soviet Airlines. In 1976
Aeroflot carried more than 100 million passengers for the first time. Its
flights were mainly concentrated around the Soviet Union, but the airline
also had an international network covering five continents: North and
South Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The network included countries
such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Cuba, and
People's Republic of China. Since the Super70s some transatlantic flights
were flown using Shannon Airport in Ireland as a hub, as it was the
westernmost non-NATO airport in Europe.
RA-96010 - an Aeroflot
Ilyushin Il-96-300 as seen at LAX on October 10,
Image courtesy of AirNikon.
Find more of his photos at Airliners.net
Aeroflot also performed myriad other functions, it provided Aeromedical,
crop-dusting, heavy lifting for the Soviet Space Agency (see Soviet Space
Program), 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, remote area patrol, but to name a few. It operated hundreds of
helicopters and cargo aircraft in addition to civil airliners. It also
operated the Soviet equivalent of Air Force One and other vip/vvip
transports of government and communist party officials. Aeroflot joined
IATA in 1989.
At the start of the 1990s Aeroflot reorganized again giving more
autonomy to territorial divisions. In 1992 it was divided into more than
300 regional airlines. International routes were operated separately as
Aeroflot - Russian International Airlines (ARIA). Some airline companies
which were created from the old Aeroflot are now flag carriers of the
newly independent countries of the CIS — e.g., Uzbekistan Airways.
Smaller regional airlines which emerged out of the old Aeroflot —
sometimes just one-plane operations — were sometimes referred to as
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's strategy.
The company used to be severely criticized for its bad service,
especially in the first half of 1990s. Although service has improved since
then, the hardest part was to train attendants to deliver it with a smile
(smiling to strangers has been traditionally considered in Russian culture
a sign of idiocy). In the mid-1990s the company even had an advertisement
slogan: "We don't smile because we're serious about making you
For a while now Aeroflot has been struggling to redefine itself as a
safe and reliable airline. It hired British consultants for rebranding at
the beginning of the 2000s. A new livery and uniforms for flight
attendants were designed and a promotional campaign launched in 2003. The
service has also improved noticeably.
Plans were afoot to get rid of the old Soviet-era logo complete with
hammer and sickle, which some people in the West treat as an uncomfortable
reminder of the old Soviet era. A customer survey showed that this was the
most recognizable symbol of the company and it was decided to keep it.
Aeroflot also recently upgraded its fleet of western-built aircraft.
Now it has a total of 18 A320/A319 jet planes for short-haul flights in
Europe and nine Boeing 767 planes for long-haul routes. The total number
of planes is 93. It carried 5.9 million passengers in 2003.
In the spring of 2004 the airline started an aggressive expansion on
the domestic market aiming to gain 30% share by 2010 (currently it holds
approximately 9%). The first task was to outperform one of its major
rivals Siberia Airlines, the current leader in the Russian domestic
market. On July 29, 2004 the company adopted a new corporate slogan:
"Sincerely Yours. Aeroflot".
On April, 14, 2006 Aeroflot became the first air carrier in the former
Soviet Union to join a global alliance (SkyTeam; another option was entry
into Star Alliance).
The company has announced its plan to increase cargo operations. It
registered the "Aeroflot Cargo" trademark in 2004. There is also
a plan to replace the current cargo fleet of four DC-10s with six MD-11s
The airline is owned (as of January 2005) by the Russian Government
(51.17%), National Reserve Corporation (27%) and employees and others
(19%). It has 14,714 employees.
There have been no fatal accidents since 23 March 1994 (when 75 people
were killed after an Aeroflot Airbus crashed in Siberia after the pilot
allowed his 15-year-old son to take the controls (see Aeroflot Flight
593)). It would seem that since the early 1990s Aeroflot has considerably
improved its safety recorded (see "A Face Lift for Down-at-Heel
Aeroflot", New York Times, 7 April 2003).
The Aeroflot fleet consists of the following aircraft* (at 25 October
5 Airbus A310
10 Airbus A319-100
6 Airbus A321-200 (7 more on order )
6 Ilyushin Il-96-300
4 McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40
11 Tupolev Tu-134A
1 Tupolev Tu-134B
25 Tupolev Tu-154M
2 Yakovlev Yak-40
30 Sukhoi Russian Regional Jet (on order)
* Only active aircraft are listed
Aeroflot's Western-made fleet is relatively young, whereas most of the
Russian jets (except for Il-96s)
are due to retire between 2005 and 2008. Aeroflot recently returned their
737s and 777s.
During the Soviet era, almost all of Aeroflot's airliners were built by
Soviet aircraft manufacturers.
During the 1940s and the early 1950s, the base aircraft for the
Aeroflot fleet 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 such aircraft to be produced in the Soviet Union was
completed in 1939.
Later, the Li-2 aircraft were replaced by the Ilyushin Il-12 (which
entered service in 1947) and the Ilyushin Il-14 (which entered service in
On September 15, 1956 Aeroflot started to operate Tupolev Tu-104s, the
USSR's first jet airliner in regular service. The first passenger-carrying
flight of this aircraft was from Moscow to Irkutsk, Russia. The first
international route served by the Tu-104 was Moscow - Prague, Czech
Republic (then Czechoslovakia).
The Tupolev Tu-114, originally
used to transport Soviet leaders, came into service in 1961 on the Moscow
(Vnukovo International Airport) - Khabarovsk, Russia route. It also served
international routes such as Moscow - Tokyo, Japan and Moscow - Havana,
Cuba, the airline's longest non-stop route at that time.
In 1962 Aeroflot began operating the Tupolev Tu-124, the smaller
version of the Tu-104, on regional routes. These aircraft were later
replaced by the Tupolev Tu-134, which entered service in 1967. Today, most
Russian regional planes currently in service are modern modifications of
In 1972 the first Tupolev Tu-154 began regular flights. This jet
aircraft is probably the most popular Russian airliner, with over 1000 of
these aircraft having been manufactured. The latest modification, Tu-154M,
is still in service. These aircraft serve most of the Russian domestic
On November 1, 1977 Aeroflot started to use the Tupolev
Tu-144, the world's first civil supersonic aircraft (by 3 months; it
was a commercial disaster), on its regular route from Moscow (Domodedovo
International Airport) to Alma-Ata (now Almaty, Kazakhstan). With poor
performance and safety issues, the Tu-144 was suspended from
passenger service in 1978, having officially made a total of 55 regular
In 1980 the Ilyushin Il-86, the first Russian-made wide-body aeroplane,
joined the fleet. Eleven aircraft of this type are still in use for
In 1993 Aeroflot started to operate the Ilyushin Il-96-300 aircraft on
the Moscow - New York route.
The first Western-made aircraft to be used by Aeroflot, the Airbus
A310, was acquired in 1992. The company also became a Boeing customer,
acquiring new Boeing 767 jet aircraft in 1994. Since then Aeroflot has
also operated Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s, and the cargo version of the
In 1998 Aeroflot leased 2 Boeings 777. Both of them have already been
Other Aeroflot Facts
- Aeroflot started commercial flights to the United States in 1968.
However, in 1979 these flights were suspended by the U.S. Government
in response to the Soviet intervention into Afghanistan. Aeroflot
flights were further suspended on December 29, 1981, in response to
Soviet actions in Poland , and again on September 15, 1983, in
response to the Soviet Union's shoot-down of Korean Air Flight 007
over its territory . Aeroflot service to the United States was not
restored until April 29, 1986.
- President Vladimir Putin's wife is a former Aeroflot flight
attendant. She worked at the Leningrad-based subsidiary of Soviet
Aeroflot (Leningrad Avia-Squadron), now Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise.
- Aeroflot was portrayed in The Bourne Supremacy.
- It is also portrayed in a number of Soviet movies. Most notably:
- "Ekipazh" (Russian: "Экипаж")
/1979/ - the first Soviet catastrophe movie
- "Mimino" (Russian:"Мимино")