Aeroflot's Boeing 767
Seattle, WA -- Aeroflot is the biggest Russian airline, dating back to the days of the Soviet Union when it used to be a state monopoly. Today things are different, and Aeroflot must compete in the Russian market and internationally as well. This is why Americans and foreigners residing in Oregon and Washington recently saw their favorite direct flight between Seattle-Moscow cancelled. This route will not re-open until Summer 2008.
Flights inside Russia are still done using old Russian jets like Ilyushin and Tupolev. The planes are loud, uncomfortable and they aren't allowed in European and American airports because of their noise levels. While noise levels are the official reason, the real one might be the issue of safety. Soviet-era planes simply aren't safe to fly. There are many stories you could hear from old-time American travelers who took flights to Russia on Soviet aircraft.
However, Aeoroflot's Seattle office commented on this article saying that "If you look close into Aeroflot's history, you'll be surprised to find that Aeroflot was and still is one of the safest airlines in the world (there are many other Russian airlines currently operating in Russia, please don't mix them up with Aeroflot)."
However, today's international Aeroflot operations are a different story. The planes are always brand new 767s or 777s leased directly from Boeing. On these aircraft Aeroflot's service is superior, and the staff serves several hearty meals, with free drinks.
My mother is coming to visit me from Moscow in May, so I decided to do some research to answer a question asked by thousands of Russians, Ukrainians and...Indians. Why did Aeroflot stop flying between Seattle and Moscow? A few seconds into my call I was talking to the president of the Aeroflot office in Seattle, Gennady Mikhailovich Tavlintsev. Mr. Tavlintsev welcomed my questions, and openly stated that "Aeroflot has never made money off the Seattle flight. It was maintained only for the purpose of the company's image."
Tavlinstsev said that "Aeroflot isn't subsidized by the government any more, and it simply cannot afford flying into Seattle. Government taxes are very high for foreign-leased aircraft, and it's not permitted to fly Ilyushins to America. The Boeing jet that used to fly to Seattle is serving Asian routes these days. The distances are half of the trip to Seattle, the airport taxes are cheaper, but Aeroflot can charge the same ticket prices. You do the math..."
Tavlinstev said that Aeroflot will save up some money, and hopefully will re-start flights to Seattle in the summer 2007. "They left the office here and all the staff, so that's a good sign!"
Ukrainian and Russian love for the Seattle flight is easy to explain; there's a huge Russian and Ukrainian community both in Oregon and Washington. But Indians also had there own reasons to love the flight. Aeroflot operates direct flights from Moscow to Delhi. Two direct flights conducted by the same company and supported by excellent service with two hot meals served on each flight, with free wine, beer and liquor, multiple snacks, decent in-flight Hollywood movies, and inexpensive airfare -- that's hard to beat. My mom was very surprised that her Delta flight from Moscow to New York offers only a cold lunch, and the New York to Seattle leg, only peanuts. Not a lot for a 22 hour commute!
If you ever decide to fly two different companies, I wouldn't recommend doing it. The danger of arriving several hours late from abroad is very high. Once you've missed your other flight, it's hard to find the guilty party. A one day layover and hassles getting reimbursed are practically guaranteed.
Aeroflot's Boeing 777