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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aeroflot, U.S. Airline Ink Accord

Russia's state-controlled Aeroflot airline and Continental Airlines of the United States have signed a preliminary accord to jointly operate jetliners on the New York-Moscow route and share access to their reservation systems.

Aeroflot also said it plans to cooperate with local carriers to start some new routes linking Russian provinces with foreign destinations.

Details of a memorandum of understanding signed by Aeroflot and Continental this month still must be worked out, but a Continental official said a five-year accord is expected to take effect by May.

"This is a great step forward for passengers traveling between our two countries," said Toubia Hachem, Continental's representative in Moscow.

He said that though many problems were still to be solved, Continental was "satisfied" with Aeroflot's decision to hire Washington-based airline experts Globel Associates to help put the program together.

Committees will soon be set up to tackle problems such as upgrading airport transfer facilities, Hachem said.

Plans call for the airlines to share DC-10-30 airliners on the New York-Moscow route and initiate a so-called code-sharing arrangement for their reservations systems. That would allow Russian passengers, for example, to make reservations through Continental for U.S. destinations not served by Aeroflot.

Aeroflot's deputy commercial director, Nikolai Lebedev, said the agreement with Houston-based Continental, the fifth largest U.S. airline, reflected the Russian carrier's "increased commitment to passenger comfort." He added that the proposed steps would help raise "respect" for his airline.

Lebedev said Aeroflot also plans to link Russian provinces with other foreign destinations. This would be achieved through cooperation with local Russian and carriers within the Commonwealth of Independent States, he said.

But Aeroflot appears to have lost some ground already to competitor Transaero, which already has an agreement with Riga Airlines for flights to London and Paris via the Latvian capital. Transaero also has signed an agreement for a future code-sharing program with American Airlines on flights to Los Angeles and Chicago.

Transaero officials said the agreements did not signal the onset of cutthroat competition with Aeroflot.

"Both companies are going to profit from these code-sharing agreements," said Transaero's commercial director, Igor Komisarov.

Flight destinations and timetables would be complementary, he said, citing the airlines' recent agreement to turn over the Los Angeles route entirely to Transaero.

Winter timetables unveiled by Aeroflot Thursday seemed to target sun-worshippers seeking tropical climes. From Nov. 1, Aeroflot will start weekly flights to three major tourist destinations -- Havana, the Mexican resort of Cancun and Port Louis in Mauritius.