Aeroflot set to leave Soviet image behind

By the end of this year Aeroflot's logo will no longer bear the hammer and sickle - a symbol of the Soviet era most of Russia dropped over a decade ago. But the giant state airline, which turns 80 this month, hopes the belated change will help banish the visions of scowling cabin staff and rickety planes its name conjures up for many travelers. The new logo - still under debate - is part of Aeroflot's image overhaul, to include staff training in polite and efficient service and cheerier uniforms and cabins. Founded in the early days of the Soviet era, Aeroflot has more than survived the Union's traumatic collapse 11 years ago. The airline, flag carrier for the world's largest country, expects to almost quadruple 2002 net profit to $74.2 million and boost it another 35 percent to around $100 million this year. And by the end of 2005, it should have a leaner and more fuel-efficient fleet, much of it foreign-made. "For 70 years, Aeroflot was a state bureaucratic structure that did what it was told to do by the government," Lev Koshliakov, the company's deputy general director said. "Today it's a shareholding managed by modern economic methods on the basis of our real market position." Aeroflot rode out the global airline crisis that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States much better than its peers because it was less dependent on transatlantic flights and able to grab market share as its competitors cut flights to Russia, the Russia Journal wrote.

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