The phrase “Have a nice flight” might take on a whole new meaning following Aeroflot’s decision to launch a no-frills brand.
The venture known as Dobrolet, which is loosely translated as “nice flight”, will take to the skies next year if laws forbidding the sale of non-refundable tickets on the internet are repealed by the Russian government. Dobrolet will fly from Moscow to St Petersburg and eight other Russian cities but is likely to expand to international routes.
It is designed initially to compete with Russia’s long-distance train network. In return for speed and convenience, passengers will have to put up with seats that do not recline, no in-flight entertainment and cabins that will only be cleaned once a day. There will be no premium cabin, but extra legroom seats will be offered for a fee and basic meals may be purchased.
Aeroflot chief executive Vitaly Savelyev said: "Nothing will be free." He added that he expected a change in the ticketing laws “by the end of this year”.
Dobrolet will launch initially in mid-2014 with eight Boeing 737-800s that will take a navy and sky blue livery. The name was originally used by Aeroflot in the first eight years of its existence and the company promises that its spinoff will have fares that are about 40 per cent cheaper than competitors. It has yet to name a home airport, which the carrier just says will be “in the Moscow region”.
Setting up Dobrolet is a defensive move by Aeroflot, as budget carriers such as Easyjet and Wizz Air are already making inroads into its market. Easyjet began flying to Moscow in March from Gatwick and Manchester, while Wizz last month began serving the city from Budapest. Dobrolet’s first international routes may however concentrate on leisure destinations popular with Russians such as Turkey and Egypt’s Red Sea coast.