Aeroflot are the largest airline in Russia today. They fly to nearly fifty different countries around the world, and to almost a hundred major cities (97, to be exact).
Aeroflot are today a member of the SkyTeam alliance, the world’s second largest airline alliance, and are partnered with major airlines such as Delta Air Lines, Air France, Alitalia and KLM.
The list of Aeroflot’s international destinations includes New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Beijing and Tokyo, as well as many other major world destinations. Aeroflot also flies to the capital city of most former Soviet states, such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine. (As you can imagine, after the 2008 war, Aeroflot doesn’t fly to Tbilisi, Georgia any more).
Aeroflot has rapidly modernised as an airline (gone are the grumpy flight attendants of old). Also gone are almost all of the old Soviet jetliners – the Antonov, Ilyushin and Tupolev ranges – in favour of larger, safer, more efficient Western designed planes. Today, Aeroflot’s fleet is almost entirely comprised of Airbus and Boeing jets. Of the 91 planes in its fleet, 74 are Airbus, and 11 are Boeing. Only 6 Ilyushin planes remain, mostly serving routes to former Soviet nations.
Aeroflot also has a fairly large domestic arm. Much of Aeroflot’s domestic business was sold off in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Russia’s headlong rush into privatisation. Many smaller domestic carriers were formed, some of which were only just large enough to operate one plane. Although Aeroflot maintained a good safety record, the new airlines (mockingly known as Babyflots) didn’t, and many of the crashes you hear about in Russia involve these smaller airlines. Today, safety problems, the increasing confidence of Aeroflot, and economic problems facing smaller airlines mean that Aeroflot is re-emerging as a major force in the Russian domestic market. It has boosted its market share from 9% in 2006, to a planned 30% by the end of 2010.
Aeroflot airlines has a long history – it is one of the world’s oldest airlines. It was formed – as the Civil Air Fleet – in 1921, and its first domestic passenger flights began in 1923. By 1932, it had been reformed as Aeroflot, and by 1937 it was flying its first international flights. Three years later, as World War Two began, Aeroflot was the world’s largest airline, with over 3,000 planes in its fleet. More recently, Aeroflot flew its 100 millionth international passenger in 1976, and today carries almost 6 million passengers per year across its network.
Aeroflot’s first flight to the United States was in 1968, and although services to the America were suspended for seven years in the 1980s, Aeroflot USA still flies regularly to US cities.