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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aeroflot to Terminate Direct Chicago Flights

Flagship carrier Aeroflot is to terminate its weekly direct flights to Chicago in a decision made in the wake of last month's terrorist attacks in the United States, an airline official said Monday.

"After Oct. 28, when the winter season starts, we are not planning to run this flight," Alexander Kanishchev, the head of Aeroflot's route management department, said in a telephone interview.

Kanishchev said the company already had been considering terminating the flight even before the events of Sept. 11, which he said "put a cross on any doubts we had about it."

Aeroflot flies to Chicago every Tuesday.

"This flight is quite expensive to handle as we have to accommodate our crew there for a whole week, making it unprofitable," he said. Also, about 85 percent of the Chicago-bound passenger-flow was handled in the summer.

"We are now working to combine the Chicago flight with that to Toronto as of next summer," Kanishchev said, adding that in a worst-case scenario flights to Chicago would be terminated altogether.

Passengers who want to travel to Chicago as of next month will have the choice of flying either to Toronto, New York or Seattle and then using a local airline that has an inter-airline agreement with Aeroflot.

In addition to New York and Seattle, Aeroflot also flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. Kanishchev said the airline does not see these destinations affected.

"We may switch from Boeing 777 to Boeing 767 on some dates and destinations, but otherwise our calculations show that other changes are not expedient," Kanishchev said. The 767 is smaller than the 777.

Meeting investors late last month, Aeroflot officials said the airline would be little affected by the downturn that has hit the industry worldwide.

In the first eight months of this year, Aeroflot enjoyed 9 percent growth in its service to U.S. destinations, which account for 8 percent of its business overall. Aeroflot is forecasting no significant decrease in passenger numbers to U.S. destinations next year.

Aeroflot's commercial director, Yevgeny Bachurin, told investors that it expected to lose no more than 15,000 passengers by the end of this year. Earlier it forecasted carrying 5.6 million passengers over the year.

Aton brokerage analyst Yelena Sakhnova said that losing one flight a week was not critical for Aeroflot and would benefit the company if it was a loss-making route, especially with the 19 percent growth expected on the domestic market.