Air Transport World

'Independent' in the CIS: Vnukova of Russia. (Commonwealth of Independent States) (Company Profile)

The Vnukovo division of Aeroflot was regarded as one of the major elements of the U.S.S.R.'s airline system. And rightly so. Based at Moscow's major domestic airport, it was responsible for most of the domestic trunk routes radiating from the nation's capital. By 1990, just before the breakup of the U.S.S.R., it carried 5.8 million passengers some 15.5 billion PKs.

It also was the first to operate many of the U.S.S.R.'s medium-range airliners, including the first passenger jet, the Tu-104 1956. More recently, it was first to operate the Tu-154, in 1972--today, the 154 serves in large numbers with most of the region's major carriers--and in late 1993, it took on the task of the precertification operational flight testing of the new Tupolev Tu-204.

Under the still-current U.S.S.R. airworthiness rules, a new airliner is required to build up a year's operational experience--but carrying cargo instead of passengers--on domestic services prior to the issue of its full certificate. For the Tu-204, Vnukovo undertook a series of flights mainly to the remote Sakhalin Island, off the far eastern coast of Russia.

It also claims an unblemished safety record of no fatal accidents in 60 years.

Vnukovo maintained its leadership when the era of privatization began and was the first Aeroflot unit to put pressure on the State Privatization Committee to achieve its independence. In March, 1993, it was reformed into the Vnukovo Production Assn., and shortly afterward, it was divided into the airport, now a separate joint stock company or company with shareholdings, and Vnukovo Airlines, the airline, which inherited the aircraft, the engineering/technical department and around 3,000 employees, including some 1,400 flight crew and air attendants, and about 150 engineers and technical staff. …

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