Aeroflot Russian Airlines dreams of glory. It wants to become a swanky, luxurious, powerful airline heralded by the world and sought after by elites. Sounds like Mother Russia, doesn’t it?
Aeroflot Dreams Of Glory
A lot of change is coming to Aeroflot. One Mile at a Time lays it out so nicely that there is no need for me to rehash it. But I do want to focus on Aeroflot’s aspirations to become one of the top airlines in the world.
First, all tongue and cheek aside, Aeroflot already is a great airline. Besides Turkish Airlines, it is the only aircraft to consistently offer “real” business class seats (versus simply blocked middle seats) on European flights. Furthermore, it offers amazing cuisine and service on its longhaul flights. This is not the airline of the Soviet era, despite the hammer and sickle still present in the logo. The new Airbus A350 will take Aeroflot business class to a whole new level.
Aeroflot will shed regional and domestic flying to its low-cost subsidiaries and focus on the premium sector. Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Saveyev recently told the Centre for Aviation (CAPA):
“We want to focus Aeroflot on long-haul flights under our new strategy to turn it into a five-star company…Aeroflot will operate only long-haul flights. This is how it will look. Today, we have four Skytrax stars for service and five stars from the US APEX Association for service as well. We can really be in the top ten (these are Skytrax five-star companies).
“I would like to emphasise that, except Lufthansa, all other airlines do not carry over 35 million passengers because quality service can only be achieved in a narrow segment. It cannot be infinitely expanded. Considering our fleet (and we have a very modern fleet, as you know) we can really be among the top five in this group. In this way, we will considerably increase our capitalization, upgrade our service and improve our prestige, both as a company and the state in general.
It is striking to me that Aeroflot is worried about a Skytrax award. If Lufthansa can
buy earn five-star status by promising a new business class seat in a few years (which may never materialize at this point), surely Aeroflot can buy earn this award on a more modern fleet with better seating, service, and onboard amenities.
Like Aeroflot, Like Russia
I speak as an American outsider of course, but this all sounds to me so very Russian. The pursuit for prestige to be awarded for it…rather than pursue greatness and let the honors come. This idea of making a name for yourself and trying to win through opulence and grandeur.
It sounds like Vladimir Putin waxing whimsically about the days of the Soviet Union and how Russia will rise again. Take his 2018 address to the nation, for instance…
“It is at such turning points that Russia has proven, time and again, its ability to develop and renew itself, discover new territories, build cities, conquer space and make major discoveries. This unwavering forward-looking drive, coupled with traditions and values, ensured the continuity in the thousand-year-long history of our nation.”
A great national airline is part of the package. Sure, let Pobeda Airlines run domestic service, but the world will see the pinnacle of progress and innovation in Aeroflot, like Sputnik and Vostok before it.
Maybe I’m stretching, but when I read the news about Aeroflot’s new focus on prestige, the link to Russia itself was immediately present in my mind. The most important news here is that Aeroflot is already good and it is going to get better. The political science twist is that Aeroflot, with its façade of beauty and opulence, may be a perfect metaphor for the Russian Federation.