By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editors Kim Hyung-dae, Ms. Joy Cho
“Aeroflot celebrates the 30 years of operation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea,” said General Manager Alexander Sychugov of the Aeroflot Russian Airlines in Korea. Then he said that his company has one of the youngest fleets of any global carrier in the world operating more than 100 aircraft with an average aircraft age of 5 years.”
Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications for the past 35 years, Sychugov said, “This not only means comfort for our passengers but also ensures their safety, which has always been Aeroflot’s top priority.” Excerpts from the interview follow:
Question: How many flights do you have a week between Korea and Russia. What other flights, if any, do you have in addition to the destinations in Korea and Russia?
Answer: Aeroflot operates daily flights between Seoul and Moscow. In addition to that, Aeroflot Group’s regional carrier, Aurora, offers up to 14 direct weekly flights between Seoul and Vladivostok, eight weekly flights from/to Khabarovsk, five flights a week to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and seven flights a week between Vladivostok and Busan.
Our route network and scheduling are also designed to offer passengers from Asia seamless, comfortable onward transit options to Europe and other destinations worldwide, with highly competitive ticket prices. Moscow’s favorable geographic position makes Aeroflot one of the best airlines for transit – passengers can save up to three hours by flying through Moscow compared to other hubs.
In 2019, Aeroflot Group, served more than 340 regular destinations in 57 countries. A sizeable proportion of all our passengers travelling between Asia and Europe are transit passengers.
Q: Please introduce in detail the fleet strength of Aeroflot for Korea. What is the fleet strength of Aeroflot globally?
A: On flights to Seoul Aeroflot operates Boeing 777-300 aircraft. We have 19 aircraft of this type. Overall, Aeroflot’s fleet is one of its strongest competitive advantages – Aeroflot has one of the youngest fleets of any global carrier operating more than 100 aircraft, with an average aircraft age of 5 years. This not only means comfort for our passengers but also ensures their safety, which has always been Aeroflot’s top priority. As of 1 April 2019, Aeroflot’s fleet had 247 aircraft.
In March, we took delivery of our first Airbus A350, which offers new levels of comfort and safety for passengers and delivers much higher environmental efficiency than other aircraft in the market. The new aircraft will significantly improve our product offering on our Asian routes, including Moscow-Seoul, making the journey more comfortable for millions of passengers flying to Russia or transiting from Asia to Europe and other parts of the world. From economy class to business class, passengers on Aeroflot’s A350 will appreciate a significant increase in comfort and safety, particularly on long-haul flights.
Q: Please introduce yourself fully to our readers, including your career and family.
A: My name is Alexander Sychugov. I am Country Manager for Korea of Aeroflot Russian Airlines. I’ve been proudly working for Russia’s biggest carrier for 14 years overall, serving in my current position for six months. I have always been fascinated by South Korea’s economic prowess, rich cultural heritage and your persistent hard-working people. As we celebrate 30 years of flights between Russia and South Korea we take pride in Aeroflot’s contribution to the development of strong cooperation between our great countries.
Q: How many people do you have at your office in Seoul and other parts of Korea?
A: Our Office in Seoul has 14 people. Four people are from Russia Alexander Sychugov, Andrey Pavlov, Andrey Pomerantsev, Yulia Vlasenko and 10 Korean employees HynSook CHO, EunYoung PARK, HyunHyang KIM, SoRa KIM, YouSun KIM, EunJa KIM, MyungWoo KANG, YeonJu KANG, YeunJeong Choi, JiYun Han.
Q: What are the major tourist destinations in Russia, in the European region, Asian regions and other parts of Russia?
A: Russia is the world’s largest country and offers visitors a vast array of travel and cultural experiences – from treks up the slopes of snow-capped mountains in the Caucasus or the Urals, to strolls along the shoreline of the world’s largest freshwater lake, or visits to some of the finest art institutions in the world such as the Hermitage museum, Tretyakov gallery or the Bolshoi or Mariinsky theatres.
Moscow and St. Petersburg have historically been Russia’s most popular destinations, attracting visitors from all over the world, whether to do business or visit the historical and cultural sights. In recent years, visitors have also started to explore other Russian destinations – we are seeing a significant increase in flights to Kazan, Rostov and Krasnodar, and eco-tourism is becoming increasingly important, particularly among travellers from Asia, who are exploring the Russian Far East and Siberia.
Another tourist hotspot attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year is lake Baikal, the deepest and largest freshwater lake in the world, located in the heart of the Eastern Siberia some 70 kilometers away from the city of Irkutsk. Summer travellers enjoy the breath-taking views of the 2000km shoreline with soaring mountain ranges on the opposite shore while rarer winter visitors can indulge in all kinds of winter sports on and around the lake.
For a few years now, thousands of tourists have been flocking to Baikal in early Spring to take part in the Baikal Ice Marathon – a unique race across the frozen waters of the Baikal lake. The race is part of a larger Lake Baikal winter games festival, the Winteriad, which also includes Baikal Kamchatka Ice Fishing and Baikal Ice Golf Tournaments Ice Skating Races and a few other outdoor adventure events.
Q: What is the high season and low season? Do you offer any discounts during low seasons? If yes, what are the most competitive rates?
A: Aeroflot serves both business and leisure traffic. It means we can ensure steady load factor all year round with minimal fluctuations in line with common world aviation calendar. Our affordable rates constitute one of our key competitive advantages on the route.
Q: What are the major traditional and contemporary festivals in Russia?
A: Many travellers prefer to visit Russia during festival seasons, of which there are plenty. New Year followed by Orthodox Christmas is by one of the most important festival seasons in Russia, which is celebrated throughout the whole 146 million strong nation. The snow-covered streets of all cities are decorated for almost two weeks at the start of January while the country enjoys well-deserved holiday.
Another important celebration is Victory Day on 9 May, which brings the whole of the nation together in remembering Russia’s victory in the Great Patriotic War 75 years ago. The history of Aeroflot is inextricably linked with the events of that conflict. Our pilots defended Russian cities and flew missions to deliver food, medicine and ammunition, ferry the wounded for treatment, support the guerrilla movement, participate in intelligence operations and serve on the home front.
The White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg is a must. It is an annual summer festival and perhaps one of the most romantic ones, celebrating its near-midnight sun phenomena due to the city’s location near the Arctic Circle – each year for a few weeks, the skies only reach twilight and never reach complete darkness. For a couple of weeks, the city doesn’t go to sleep at all, and all of its citizens and guests enjoy the various festivals, activities, concerts and longer opening hours for museums, restaurants and shops.
Russia’s art scene abounds with various festivals. Theatre lovers shouldn’t miss the Chekhov International Theatre Festival traditionally held in Moscow at the end of Spring and beginning of Summer. The genre palette of the Festival is being enriched each year with all kinds of opera and ballet productions.
Each year some of the world’s best museums, including the Hermitage and the Tretyakov gallery, participate in the night museum initiative when their doors are open for free to all visitors.
In recent years, the Russian festival scene was enriched with world class musical festivals such as Alfa Future People in Nizhny Novgorod, Park Live and Picnic Afisha in Moscow, Nashestvie in Tver region etc. Each year some of the world-class performers come to perform at these events for tens of thousands of music lovers.
Finally, there are numerous food and restaurant festivals that are held throughout the whole country. Almost all 85 Russian regions boast their own culinary traditions, and to celebrate this gastronomic variety numerous festivals are organized throughout the country, with the main ones being held in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vladivostok, the capital of Russia’s Far East.
Q: Who are the most important personalities you have flow on board the Aeroflot planes? Has President Moon Jae-in and/or other Korean VIPs have flown your plane(s)?
A: Many important personalities and celebs have flown Aeroflot over the years. We respect the privacy of all our clients and prefer not to disclose any names.
Q: What, if any, cooperative relations with the airlines of Korea?
A: We have a long-standing relationship with Korean Air. The first code-share agreement between our airlines was signed back in 2005 to operate joint flights on the route between Moscow and Seoul. Today the code-share agreement allows us to offer customers enhanced connectivity and seamless connections between several domestic destinations in Russia and Korea. Furthermore, both Aeroflot and Korean Air are members of the SkyTeam alliance – this means passengers of both airlines earn bonuses within their frequent flyer programmes from flying either airline. Alliance membership also means that our passengers benefit from an expanded route network and from some of the best service standards in the industry.
Q: Please present whatever other important details we might have left out from our questionnaire.
A: Flight safety has always been our top priority. This year we celebrated our 97th anniversary. Over the years we have accumulated great and experience and built a network of educational institutions which prepare world-class aviation specialists. All our employees regularly complete re-training courses which comply with the strictest world standards.
During this challenging time while airlines’ operations are restricted, we are doing our best to prepare for the resumption of flights, introducing new measures to ensure health and safety of our passengers and crew members.
Aviation is a highly regulated industry, including with respect to hygiene, and we maintain the high sanitary standards that you would expect from a major global airline. Our aircraft have state-of-the-art, hospital-grade air circulation systems, which use a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter to circulate the air and remove 99.99% of airborne particles.
To protect passengers and crew, we have introduced enhanced cleaning procedures that include wiping high-touch surfaces in the cabin with disinfectants, including tray tables, armrests, seatbelt buckles and in-flight entertainment screens. All blankets, pillows and headrest covers are replaced with fresh sets prior to each flight.
All Aeroflot aircraft are equipped with precautionary kits. Our flight crews are experienced and have received additional training on anti-COVID measures. In the event a passenger is showing symptoms on board, our team is ready to respond effectively and safely.
Our strict adherence to highest industry standards allows us to deliver top-class customer service, which is recognized by leading industry experts. Aeroflot holds 4-Star Airline status from Skytrax, has been named Best Airline in Eastern Europe eight times at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, and also holds Five Star Global Airline status from APEX. In 2019, Aeroflot – Russian Airlines received a five-star punctuality rating from OAG and was the world's most on-time mainline airline according to the Cirium’s annual On-Time Performance (OTP) Review.
In 2019, Aeroflot, for the eighth time in its history and for the seventh consecutive year, won the "Aviation Oscar": the Skytrax World Airline Award in the Best Airline in Eastern Europe category. That same year Aeroflot reaffirmed its global aviation lead by topping two categories in the World Travel Awards 2019 World Stage: Leading Airline Brand and Best Business Class. Earlier that year, Aeroflot once again notched up three top prizes at the European stage of the World Travel Awards 2019--Leading Airline Brand in Europe, Best Business Class in Europe, and Leading Airline to Asia in Europe--an honor for the leading Europe-Asia transit airline.