THE SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR AEROFLOT ON ITS 85th BIRTHDAY - RUSSIAN AIRLINE HOPES TO DOUBLE PASSENGER NUMBERS
- Former Soviet state carrier has undergone total overhaul
- Airline now features one of the most modern fleet in the world
- European airline acquisitions and aircraft purchases in the pipeline
- Ultra-modern terminal at Moscow airport to be completed next year
AS the Russian airline Aeroflot celebrates its 85th birthday, CEO Valery Okulov reflects on the history of one of the world’s oldest carriers and outlines the company’s ambitious future growth plan to double its passenger numbers by 2015.
Established by the Soviet government in 1923 and officially named Aeroflot in 1932, the former national Soviet airline has undergone major transformation over the last decade. The Sky Team Alliance member now possesses one of the world’s most modern aircraft fleet as well as some of the highest safety standards in the industry.
AEROFLOT THEN AND NOW
“We are tremendously proud of our rich and longstanding aviation heritage, our contributions to the development of the commercial airline sector and of the industry standards we have set over the past 85 years. Our past achievements motivate us to spread our wings and to continue to succeed in the future,” said CEO Valery Okulov.
Having become one of the world’s biggest airlines in the 1930s, operating several thousand aircraft, Aeroflot in the 1950s became the first carrier to employ the then revolutionary Tupulev Tu-104 jets. In the 1970s, Aeroflot went on to become the first airline to have carried over 100 million passengers in the world.
Following the break up of the Soviet Union in 1990, Aeroflot was divided into more than 300 separate companies. Administrative stabilisation was re-established in 1993 with the company’s registration as an open joint-stock company, which saw the Russian government sell 49 per cent of the stake. In 2000, stockholders voted to change the name of the company to “OJSC Aeroflot - Russian Airlines”.
Today, Aeroflot owns a fleet of 85 planes and flies to 100 destinations in 47 countries, amounting to 302 flights per day. Employing over 14,000 employees, the airline is listed as one the world’s top 25 leading airlines based on financial performance (according to ATW magazine).
“Building on these strong foundations and experiences, Aeroflot’s future growth will focus on the development of the route network between Europe and Asia involving strategic alliances, infrastructure improvements and an ambitious aircraft acquisition programme,” said Okulov.
FUTURE PARTNERSHIPS AND ACQUISITIONS
“We are now on course to expand rapidly into the Central European and South East Asian markets and the majority of new passengers are likely to come from intercontinental flights via Moscow airport,” he added.
Tactical partnerships and foreign airline acquisitions are crucial to enlarge the network, and the cornerstone for the East Asian market was laid earlier this month by signing an agreement with the Indian Kingfisher Airlines to offer enhanced flight options to Asia.
Whilst Aeroflot also looks into consolidating regional Russian airlines into a Far East division, the major focus for expansion will be on the European aviation market with anticipated acquisitions of a European air carrier.
One of Aeroflot’s current interests is the soon-to-be-privatised Czech Airlines and the company considers bidding for a majority-stake in the forthcoming tender. The company is also hoping to bid for Serbian JAT Airlines, which operates a strategically important Belgrade-to-Moscow route, in the tender scheduled for this April.
Over the next eight years, Aeroflot will purchase more than 65 new aircraft. The total number of aircraft in its modern fleet is expected to rise from 83 planes at the beginning of 2008 to 150 jets by 2015. In 2007 Aeroflot signed contracts for the purchase of 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 22 Airbus 350 jets. Aeroflot is also the first airline company to acquire the new Russian-built Sukhoi SuperJet SSJ-100 regional plane. 30 SSJs are already scheduled for delivery starting this year, and the airline is set to buy additional 20 jets.
A prerequisite for the large increase in passenger numbers is the newly built Terminal 3 at Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow’s biggest airport located seven kilometres north of the capital. Expected to be completed by 2009, the state-of-the-art building complex with an annual capacity of 9 to 12 million passengers will be one of the most modern terminals in the world.
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“OJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines” is based in Moscow, Russia, at Sheremetyevo Airport. The company was established in 1923. It is Russia’s largest air carrier with 45.4% of scheduled international and 12.5% of domestic carriages. Aeroflot is a member of the global alliance SkyTeam with a worldwide system of 16,400 daily flights covering 841 destinations in 162 countries. In 2007 Aeroflot carried 8.16 million passengers (10.2 million, with its subsidiaries) to 93 cities in 47 countries. Net profit in 2007 is estimated at $280 million. Aeroflot has 302 flights a day and operates a fleet of 85 aircraft.