Aeroflot Russian Airlines is 'strongly expected' to join SkyTeam by the end of this year, says Yevgeny Bachurin, commercial director of the Russian flag carrier. 'No shrinking of our network will result from that, and we do not expect any dramatic increase in traffic,' he adds.

Aeroflot already codeshares with SkyTeam members Air France and CSA Czech Airlines, and will soon add Korean Air and Alitalia, which 'will contribute to a smooth entry'. Earlier last month, Aeroflot said it was also in negotiations with SkyTeam's rival Star Alliance, but the former now seems the likely winner.

Speaking at the Cannes Airlines Forum last week, Air France chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta said that 'SkyTeam would be glad to welcome Aeroflot as a partner'.

Over the last three years, Aeroflot has been preparing to join one of the major airline alliances by modernising its fleet and reorganising its route network. It now flies to 88 destinations in 48 countries.

Aeroflot also plans to rebuild its alliances with other Russian carriers. At present, it has only one limited codeshare with Pulkovo Airlines, but has signed agreements to codeshare with Arkhangelsk Airlines and use aircraft from the government-owned GTK Rossiya.

Starting this winter, Rossiya aircraft will fly to Luanda, Angola; Ulan Bator, Mongolia; and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Source: Flight International