OJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines (Russian: ОАО "Аэрофло́т-Росси́йские авиали́нии", OAO Aeroflot-Rossiyskiye avialinii) (MCX: AFLT), commonly known as Aeroflot (English pronunciation: /ˈɛroʊˌflɔːt/ or Listeni/ˌɛroʊˈflɔːt/) (Russian: Аэрофлот, English translation: "air fleet", pronounced [ɐɛrɐˈflot]), is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation. The carrier operates domestic and international passenger services, mainly from its hub at Sheremetyevo International Airport.
Aeroflot is one of the oldest airlines in the world, tracing its history back to 1923. During the Soviet era, Aeroflot was the Soviet national airline and the largest airline in the world. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the carrier has been transformed from a state-run enterprise into a semi-privatised company which ranked 19th most profitable in the world in 2007 Aeroflot is still considered the de facto national airline of Russia. It is 51%-owned by the Russian Government. As of September 2013, the Aeroflot Group had 30,328 employees.
The company has embarked on a fleet modernisation programme, extensive route restructuring, and an image overhaul. The airline joined SkyTeam in April 2006, becoming the 10th member of the alliance.
On 17 January 1921, the Sovnarkom of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic published "About Air Transportation". The document which was signed by Vladimir Lenin set out the basic regulations on air transport over the territory of the RSFSR. The document was significant as it was the first time that a Russian state had declared sovereignty over its airspace. In addition, the document defined rules for the operation of foreign aircraft over the Soviet Union's airspace and territory. After Lenin issued an order, a State Commission was formed on 31 January 1921 for the purpose of civil aviation planning in the Soviet Union. As a result of the commission's plans, Glavvozdukhflot (Chief Administration of the Civil Air Fleet) (Russian: Главвоздухфлот (Главное управление воздушного флота)) was established, and it began mail and passenger flights on the Moscow-Oryol-Kursk-Kharkov route on 1 May 1921 using Sikorsky Ilya Muromets aircraft.:1 This was followed by the formation of Deruluft-Deutsch Russische Luftverkehrs A.G. in Berlin on 11 November 1921, as a joint venture between the Soviet Union and Germany. The company, whose aircraft were registered in both Germany and the Soviet Union, began operations on 1 May 1922 with a Fokker F.III flying between Königsberg and Moscow.:2 The service was initially operated twice a week and restricted to the carriage of mail.:2–3
On 3 February 1923 Sovnarkom approved plans for the expansion of the Red Air Fleet, and it is this date which was officially recognised as the beginning of civil aviation in the Soviet Union. After a resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Enterprise for Friends of the Air Fleet (ODVF) was founded on 8 March 1923, followed by the formation of Dobrolet (Russian: Добролёт) on 17 March 1923. Regular flights by Dobrolet from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod commenced on 15 July 1923. During the same period, an additional two airlines were established; Zakavia being based in Tiflis, and Ukrvozdukhput based in Kharkov.:2 During 1923 an agreement was signed establishing a subdivision of Dobrolet to be based in Tashkent, which would operate to points in Soviet Central Asia. Services between Tashkent and Alma Ata began on 27 April 1924, and by the end of 1924 the subdivision had carried 480 passengers and 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) of mail and freight, on a total of 210 flights.:6 In March 1924, Dobrolet began operating flights from Sevastopol to Yalta and Yevpatoriya in the Crimea. Dobrolet's route network was extended during the 1925–1927 period to include Kazan and regular flights between Moscow and Kharkov were inaugurated. Plans were made for Dobrolet flights to Kharkov to connect with Ukrvozdukhput services to Kiev, Odessa and Rostov-on-Don. During 1925, Dobrolet operated 2,000 flights over a distance of 1,000,000 kilometres (620,000 mi), carrying 14,000 passengers and 127,500 kilograms (281,100 lb) of freight, on a route network extending to some 5,000 kilometres (3,100 mi).:7 Dobrolet was transformed from a Russian to an all-Union enterprise on 21 September 1926 as a result of Sovnarkom resolutions, and in 1928 Dobrolet was merged with Ukrvozdukhput; the latter having merged with Zakavia in 1925.:6–7