AFX News Limited
Aeroflot sheds Soviet image to join 'SkyTeam'
04.14.2006, 01:13 PM



MOSCOW (AFX) - The Russian airline Aeroflot has joined forces with the SkyTeam alliance of airlines aimed at the lucrative worldwide travel market.

The deal puts Aeroflot in the company of nine other carriers, including Air France-KLM, Continental and Delta, cooperating on reservations, connections, check-in, frequent-flier miles, and other services for travellers on 14,615 daily flights to 728 destinations.

'We've done it!' exclaimed Valery Okulov, chief executive of the 51 pct state-owned Aeroflot.

The company, which retains the Soviet hammer-and-sickle as its logo, has been working since 2004 to raise safety and service standards to levels demanded by SkyTeam, which Aeroflot chose as its partner over SkyTeam's competitor Star Alliance.

The chairman of Air France said the Russians' entry into the team would allow other members to link up into Aeroflot's network.

'Our network includes the new markets of Russia and eastern Europe which promise greater demand,' Jean-Cyril Spinetta said at a ceremony attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The main cities being targeted by SkyTeam are Russian regional centres such as Yekaterinburg and the ex-Soviet republics of Georgia and Kazakhstan.

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