American Airlines Starts Moscow Route

BloombergAmerican Airlines jets being serviced at the St. Louis airport. The airline will fly between Chicago and Moscow.
DALLAS — American Airlines will start flying to Moscow on Tuesday, ending Delta Air Lines’ monopoly among U.S. carriers and seeking to tap into Russia’s growing economy.
American is adding service between Chicago and Moscow as the AMR Corp. unit joins other airlines in dropping unprofitable domestic and international routes to blunt an 82 percent jump in jet fuel prices during the past year.
The move is a bet that the government’s 6 percent annual economic growth forecast and a surge in oil and natural gas investment will fill the first- and business-class cabins of American’s Boeing 777. Six flights per week will increase to daily service next May.
“It’s a strategically important destination,” said Kevin Mitchell, head of the Business Travel Coalition, a corporate-travel group based in Radnor, Pennsylvania. “A lot of big companies are responding to the economic growth over there.”
The Moscow route by Texas-based American Airlines follows Delta’s service from New York’s Kennedy and Atlanta’s Hartsfield airports. It beats the Washington-Moscow service being started by United Airlines in October.
American Airlines declined to comment on its investment in the route or revenue expectations. A round-trip, first-class fare for a July 1 trip was priced at $12,493, while business class was $8,354, excluding fees and taxes, according to American Airlines’s web site. An economy-class ticket was $1,396.
Corporations are willing to pay premium prices for business-class seats for comfort on long flights, said Alan Bender, an airline economist at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.  
“They’re filling a vacuum,” he said of the flights to Moscow from the U.S. Midwest.
American’s 777 will have 16 first-class “flagship suite” seats, 37 fully reclining business class seats and 194 coach seats. Flights are timed to arrive in Moscow from Chicago at midday, and to arrive in Chicago in the late afternoon so passengers can still catch connecting flights home.