As the national airline of Russia, the vast majority of passengers will use Aeroflot as their carrier for journeys in and out of the country. Domestic journeys too are dominated by the airline which has enjoyed little or no internal competition since its formation.
While the current Aeroflot fleet consists of around 94 aircraft, the company was once a much larger concern.
Aeroflot was founded in February 1923 and its first official flight took place some five months later on the 15th of July between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. The company grew out of the early Soviet era and after the events of 1917 had settled down, the new government founded the Chief Administration of the Civil Air Fleet in 1921 with a view to establishing a new commercial airline.
Aeroflot was founded as Dobroflot in 1923 before changing its name nine years later. Early flights were confined to internal journeys only and it would be some time before the fledgling company would venture overseas.
As far as the early Aeroflot Fleet was concerned, the inventory was made up of manufacturers from within the Soviet Union and that situation was to remain for most of the Soviet Era.
Tupolev aircraft including the ANT20-bis tended to dominate as they sat on the runway alongside planes from Ilyushin and Antonov.
Crossing the globe
After operating exclusively on an internal basis for the first few years of existence, Aeroflot began its series of international flights in 1937.
From this point onwards, its growth was exceptionally rapid and by the end of the 1930’s it had risen to become the world’s largest airline. At this peak it was employing some 60,000 personnel including 4,000 pilots. It was also operating around 3,000 aircraft at this time.
Sadly the name Aeroflot has been synonymous with safety concerns since the very beginning and in those early days, it was entirely at the company’s own doing. Of the 3,000 aircraft flying at the end of the 1930’s, 75% of them were already obsolete by Aeroflot’s own standards.
Aeroflot played a significant role in the Soviet Union’s World War II campaign before returning to normal duties at the end of the conflict.
In 1956, the Tupolev Tu-104 was the jewel of the fleet and enabled Aeroflot to become the first company to provide regular jet services across the globe.
Fall of the Soviet Union to the Present day
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot splintered into many regional airlines and that is the chief reason for the reduction in size of fleet from 3,000 in its heyday to around 94 today.
Of the current Aeroflot fleet, many are still Russian made but alongside the Sukhoi’s and Ilyushins, you will now find Airbuses and Boeings as well as a small selection from McDonnell Douglas.
Today, Aeroflot is still Russia’s premier carrier and although its fleet stands at a fraction of that of its former days, this is a famous airline that has contributed greatly to Russia’s history since it was founded way back in 1923.