This is certainly old news, but will come as a surprise to many. Aeroflot has begun operating the Airbus A330-200 widebody aircraft, which will enhance Aeroflot’s image considerably.
The first A330 went into service late last year, flying triple-daily SVO-LED flights (Moscow Sheremetyevo to St. Petersburg Pulkovo). After this trial run, Aeroflot began using the A330 on its SVO-NRT(Tokyo Narita) route. Since June 15th, Aeroflot has put into service its third A330 and is currently flying the fleet on its SVO-NRT, SVO-UPB(Havana) and SVO-VVO(Vladivostok) routes. In all, Aeroflot plans to lease 10 A330’s from Dutch company Aercap, to be used temporarily until the 22 A350’s it has ordered are delivered in the next ten years. Rumor is the A330’s will eventually also fly the SVO-PVG (Shangai Pudog), SVO-PEK (Beijing Capital) and SVO-LAX (Los Angeles) routes. Eventually, I am sure they will put the A330 on their coveted SVO-JFK (New York) and SVO-IAD (Washington Dulles) routes. Until then, passengers flying from the East Coast on Aeroflot will be stuck on their old Boeing 767-300’s.
The big deal about Aeroflot operating A330’s is the cabin upgrade Aeroflot offers compared to their older 767’s. All 34 business class seats, as well as the 207 economy class seats, are equipped with the Panasonic ex 2 IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) system, which is AVOD (Audio/Video On Demand). The screens in business class are 16 inches, and in economy class 9 inches. This is a substantial upgrade to the older 767’s Aerflot is operating, with old bulky TV monitors in economy class, and Digi players distributed to Business class. The 7-13 hour flights from Moscow on international routes can be dreadful without seatback IFE’s. I personally experienced this flying Aeroflot on its LAX-SVO route in December 2006 on a 767-300, where the overhead TV screens were never turned on for the entirety of the 12 hour flight, without explanation. Since the person sitting next to me slept through the entire flight, I was stuck in a prison of bordeom.
Although Aeroflot’s European service has improved in recent years, this is the first effort to enhance its international routes to North America and Asia. Given Aeroflots dreadul history, and reputation among foreigners as “scareoflot”, improving its on-board service is applauded. Also, this may enable them to compete with U.S. carriers flying to Moscow without personal IFE’s, such as American Airlines (ORD-DME) and Delta Airlines (JFK-SVO and ATL-SVO), although United Airlines has recently begun flying to Moscow on the IAD-DME route with B767’s outfitted with personal IFE’s. It will also enable Aeroflot to compete with European carriers routing passengers to Moscow via Europe such as Lufthansa, Swiss, and Air France, who offer superior cabin service.
More pictures of the Aeroflot’s A330 cabin can be seen via: http://aviator.ru/airbus330/