Aeroflot low-fare subsidiary Dobrolet completed its first commercial flight from Moscow to Simferopol in Crimea, the Russian flag carrier announced Tuesday. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, senior executives from Russia’s transport industry and Aeroflot’s top management attended a ceremony at Sheremetyevo International Airport to mark the maiden flight.
Named in honor of a predecessor of today’s Aeroflot, Dobrolet serves Simferopol four times a day. Aeroflot calls the Crimean city Dobrolet’s first “key” destination, as Russia continues its efforts to fully integrate the territory since its annexation from Ukraine in March.
Plans call for Dobrolet to launch flights with Boeing 737-800NGs from Moscow to St. Petersburg and Samara in August and subsequently expand to other Russian destinations. By 2016 it expects to fly internationally, primarily within Europe and the CIS. Delivery schedules call for Dobrolet to operate eight aircraft by year-end. Plans for the more distant future include expansion of the fleet to 40 airplanes by 2018, by which time it hopes to operate 45 routes.
“Our budget carrier Dobrolet is a project of a strategic importance not only for Aeroflot Group, but for the whole country,” said Vitaly Saveliev, CEO of Aeroflot and chairman of the board of Dobrolet. “Support from the president and prime minister played an important role in helping us launch this project by approving regulatory amendments that cleared the way for the development of a competitive low-cost transportation in Russia.”
Aeroflot estimates that Dobrolet’s “transportation costs” run 20- to 30-percent lower than those of established full-fare carriers.