Visitor from Russia
Friday, Dec. 01, 1967
The U.S. got its first glimpse last week of a Russian jetliner that figures to become a regular visitor. Into Washington's Dulles International Airport—and later into airports at Philadelphia and New York, flew an Ilyushin-62 fan jet laden with caviar, vodka and souvenirs for American reporters and dignitaries. Purpose of the visit was to pass U.S. airworthiness and noise-abatement tests preliminary to the introduction, long delayed by cold war vicissitudes, of nonstop flights between New York and Moscow.
The service would involve one weekly round-trip flight each (two a week during the summer season) by Pan American World Airways and Aeroflot, the U.S.S.R.'s government-owned airline. Though U.S. and Soviet officials agreed more than a year ago to start such flights, the Russians were understandably reluctant to pit their obsolescent turboprop TU-114s against the much faster (600 m.p.h.) Boeing 707-320C jetliners that Pan Am plans to use on the runs. The IL-62, with a 560-m.p.h. cruising speed only slightly slower than the Boeing, was the obvious Soviet answer, but it had been beset by bugs ever since its maiden flight in 1963.
After biding their time while they corrected the problems, the Russians finally signaled their satisfaction last summer when they introduced the IL-62 on their year-old Moscow-Montreal runs. A high-flying (42,600 ft.), far-ranging (more than 5,000 miles) ship that resembles Britain's Vickers VC-10, the 186-passenger plane now rivals the best in Western commercial aircraft. To meet U.S. navigational requirements, it has been rigged out with RCA antennas and other American-made avionics gear. And to judge from last week's proving flight, at least, its lissome Russian stewardesses seem ordered to U.S. specifications as well. In fact, about the only fault that Federal Aviation Agency officials could find was that the Russian crew's command of English—the official international airways language—was something less than masterly.
When the direct flights finally begin, the fares (example: $548 for a 21-day round-trip excursion) will be the same as those for present flights that require a change of planes. Because such costs are better suited to American pocketbooks, little change seems likely in existing travel patterns; last year 20,000 Americans visited Russia while only 3,000 Russians came to the U.S. But as a symbol of U.S.-Russian cooperation, the reciprocal flight should eventually stimulate two-way traffic on the bridges the U.S. is trying to build with Eastern Europe. Best guess is that the new service will be under way, barring some unforeseen spasm in U.S.-Soviet relations, by early spring.
Friday, Jul. 19, 1968
It was first proposed in 1935, after Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's flight to Moscow. It was included in a Soviet-U.S. cultural-exchange agreement in 1958. Then came a decade of talks, suspended whenever the cold war temperature dropped to chilly or freezing. Finally, this week, the first Moscow-New York commercial flight was set to take off.
Loaded with aviation officials and pressmen, the Soviet Union's huge Aeroflot jetliner, the Ilyushin-62, was scheduled to land at New York's Kennedy Airport after a stopover in Montreal. Total time: 12 hr. 40 min. A few hours later, a Pan American Boeing 707-321B jet was aimed for Moscow, via Copenhagen, for the 4,907-mile journey that was scheduled to last 10 hr. 35 min. Both planes were to return the next day, and both of the once-weekly flights will continue, with passengers paying from $548 for 14-to 21-day economy-class excursion trips to $1,109.50 for round-trip first class.
Primarily a matter of prestige for the U.S.S.R. and a gesture of East-West bridge building for the U.S., the direct air link is not expected to pay off in fast profits for either airline. By the end of last week, Pan American had found only 35 persons ready to embark on its first flight to Moscow.
For Pan Am, the Copenhagen stopover will help recover part of the expenses, since the Danish capital is a popular tourist spot. With one Russian visiting the U.S. for every seven Americans visiting Russia, Pan Am hopes to have a clear edge over the Soviet government-owned airline. Still, the Russians are expected to make the going great with vodka-caviar treats aboard IL-62 jets on the New York run. If so, this may lure away a number of prospective Pan American customers who would rather eat than sleep. "On a prestige flight like this," muses a Pan Am official, "who knows what Aeroflot will do?" Says Aeroflot's U.S. Representative Vladimir Samoroukov: "Our service will be very nice—I hope."
November 03, 2006
Aeroflot Celebrates 40th Anniversary Of Signature Of Agreement Between The USSR And The USA
On November 4, it will be 40 years since signature of the agreement on air traffic between the USSR and the USA.
On November 4, 1966, Loginov E.F., Minister of Civil Aviation of the USSR, and Thompson L., US Ambassador in the USSR, on behalf of their governments signed a first agreement on air traffic between the USSR and the USA.
At the same time it was an important political event in conditions of mutual distrust and strain in Soviet-American relations scarcely restored after the Caribbean crisis. However, regular flights to the USA began only two years later. The Americans had not long granted the necessary permits, inquired additional documents and certificates. The difficulties were due to absence of national standards of airworthiness of domestic civil aircrafts in the USSR, impossibility to make decisions by the Americans on the basis of ICAO norms, while the Soviet Union was not a member of the organization. The American party required the documents characterizing reliability of aircraft construction, its flight performance and correspondence to norms adopted in the USA. It was almost impossible to meet the requirements since projection and construction of domestic aircrafts was governed by a classified document “General technical requirements” of the Ministry of Aviation Industry. It could not be referred to since it was applied both to civil and military aircrafts. Due to long and difficult negotiations of Aeroflot experts with the Americans the solution was finally found.
The first regular flight Moscow – New York – Moscow with a stop in Montreal was made on July 5, 1968. On board the aircraft Il-62 piloted by Boris Yegorov and Aleksander Vitkovskiy were 97 passengers. The stewards crew was headed by Natalya Arutyunova.
Flights to the USA were always attended with great difficulties. So, in the 70-es Pan American was constantly blaming Aeroflot of forcing Soviet passengers to fly only by the Russian airlines. The American reply was an introduction of restrictions on commercial activities of Aeroflot in the USA.
A decree imposing restrictions on Aeroflot activities in the USA was issued in May 1976 on the initiative of State Department: all air companies and travel agents in the USA, except from Pan American were prohibited to issue tickets for Aeroflot flights and to dispatch cargoes by Aeroflot air crafts.
Strain in Soviet-American air relations increased.
A new surprise was given by Pan American with an announcement on suspension of regular flights to Moscow since October 29, 1978, due to “economic reasons”.
Afghan campaign has deteriorated the whole complex of Soviet-American relations. Confrontation on political and ideological levels has been reflected in aviation relations. It was a period full of dramatic moments.
Explosion in Aeroflot representation in New York, search of the aircraft by the FBI agents, accusations of Aeroflot in the Congress. In 1983 Aeroflot flights to the USA were suspended and its representations were closed.
Air traffic with the USA was resumed only in April 1986. Business cooperation of Aeroflot with Pan American was developed on a new level. A joint line on Boeings 747 was established and a range of joint enterprises were set up.
According to Vorontsov Y.M., Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Russia in the USA, on the account of the 30th anniversary of Aeroflot flights to the USA, “the agreement of 1966 became an important component of development relations with the USA. It certainly reflected the specific features of confrontation period, and was first of all “banning”, introduced strict frames, restricted opportunities of the parties, but nevertheless the most important is that due to this agreement an air-bridge was built with the efforts of politicians, diplomats and aviators three decades ago. Air traffic is one of the spheres of bilateral relations reacting political fluctuations first of all. This is the agreement of 1966 that was the basis for resumption of direct regular traffic and establishment of full value mutually advantageous cooperation».
This evaluation is still true. The agreement of 1966 became a basis of a new Intergovernmental agreement on air traffic between Russia and the USA of 14.01.1996.
In the new agreement Soviet Aeroflot was substituted by new Aeroflot and bankrupt Pan American – by the largest American air company Delta. Nowadays “Aeroflot – Russian Airlines” and “Delta” are not only business partners in bilateral cooperation but also active participants of the world air alliance Skyteam.
Nowadays Aeroflot has regular flights to: New York (7 flights per week), Washington (up to 2 flights per week), Los Angeles (up to 6 flights per week). All flights to the USA destinations are made on Boeings 767.
Within 2001-2005 and 9 months of 2006 Aeroflot has carried 1 mln. 265 thousand passengers to/from the USA.
Joining of OJSC “Aeroflot” the global international alliance SkyTeam opened new cooperation opportunities with American members of the alliance – air companies Delta, Continental and Nord-West.