Air Transport World

Aeroflot - times set to change.

The Russian carrier's new GD is rankling the establishment with preferences for Western business practices and aircraft

Moscow--In October, 1995, the Russian government appointed Marshall Evgeni Shaposhnikov general director of Aeroflot--Russian International Airlines (ARIA), then and now 51% owned by the state. The change of management occurred after severe criticism of the previous directorate by several leading Russian banks that--with government influence--handle the Aeroflot accounts.

Shaposhnikov has served in several senior government and military posts. He commanded the "long-range air force" in the Russian far east, later served as Mikhail Gorbachev's last Minister of Defense, and held several senior appointments in military-related industries.

Following his ARIA appointment, he set about establishing a management team; several of the previous directors and department chiefs continue, while others are new. Often, these are not from other aviation backgrounds. But this is an accepted trend outside Russia. Several have banking backgrounds and former Logovaz bank staff are prominent among them.

With the changes at the top comes a new style of management, felt in all sectors of the airline. The old standards no longer are normal or even. acceptable. Shaposhnikov is on record as saying: "Aeroflot must change; we must improve its international image. And from now on, its flights must be profitable. We won't continue to fly routes just for diplomatic purposes, unless the government pays for them.

"We need to develop a domestic hub at Sheremetyevo Air port [ARIA's base] in order to generate additional passenger flows for our international services. And we need to raise revenues." In 1995, ARIA grossed some 4,665 billion rubles and achieved an operating profit of 273 billion rubles.

On aircraft, he said: "ARIA will select only aircraft that our passengers like. Foreign aircraft are expensive to lease but we can operate an Airbus or Boeing 12 hr. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.