The official presentation of the much-talked-about Aeroflot future low-cost subsidiary finally took place.
Most of what was unveiled at the press conference had already been anticipated in our blog post of 24th September about Aeroflot's plans for its low cost carrier, but some new details emerged, such as the initial fleet, made of 8 Boeing 737-800NG (Aeroflot has currently 25 of them on order), that is expected to keep growing by 8 additional aircraft per year, at least in the coming years.
Its route network will cover 8 cities in the European part Russia our of Moscow (Sant Petersburg, Samara, Krasnodar, Ekaterinburg, Machachkala, Kaliningrad, Noviy Urengoyi and Ufa) and plans to go international by 2016 by adding some international flights to places such as Kiev, Erevan or Istanbul.
The description of services provided only after the payment of a fee include checked-in luggage and in-flight meals, which currently must be provided for free according to Russian law, so I guess Aeroflot is quite certain that legislative changes to facilitate the roll-out of the low cost airline business model in Russia are imminent.
The other highlight was, of course, the unveiling of Dobrolet's whole corporate image and branding, not least the company's logo, livery and, last but not least, its own name: Dobrolet (actually I am spelling it this way because this is how I have seen it being referred to in Aeroflot's own corporate communications documents, but maybe we should rather spell it as "Dobrolyot", as it sounds like a more accurate transliteration of the Russian "Добролёт"). This name, which translated would mean something like "nice flight", has actually, quit an interesting story behind, since it has its origins in a Soviet airline of the 1920s, the antecessor of Aeroflot...
Two interesting points were hinted at :
First is that Dobrolet might switch to Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 aircraft in the future (Aeroflot currently operates 10 of them and has a few more on order), in this regard, Aeroflot's CEO, Vitaly Savelyev, said they are increasingly satisfied with the Russian regional jet performance and described some of the early reliability issues as "children's illnesses" that are now left behind.
The second one is that Aeroflot might be considering Ramenskoe airfield outside Moscow as a possible future base for its low cost airline. This move, which had even been suggested by Russia's president, V.Putin, might take some time to materialize as it is currently not prepared to accomodate passenger traffic. It is, however, the site of the widerly popular bi-annual MAKS air show.