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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aeroflot Inks Deal With Irish Carrier

Aeroflot on Thursday signed code-sharing and inter-line agreements with a start-up Irish carrier that will give it wider access to European skies, the company said.

Aeroflot CFO Alexander Zurabov flew to Dublin to sign the agreement with SkyNet airline chief Dick Healy.

Aeroflot had been seeking a relationship with a European Union carrier to give it access to new routes under the EU's Open Skies agreement.

The deal with SkyNet is more modest than Aeroflot's earlier intention of buying into an existing carrier. Earlier this year Aeroflot wanted to buy a stake in bankrupt Virgin Express Ireland, but those plans fell through.

Aeroflot will not have equity in SkyNet but will be a commercial partner, Healy said in a telephone interview from Dublin. The airline was founded and financed by Irish and American businessmen.

SkyNet, based in Shannon, was set up prior to the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States but the resulting slump in the global aviation industry has not dampened its enthusiasm about the project, Healy said. He added that some $10 million has been invested in the project, which he said would be recouped in two to three years. "It's almost an opportune time. Since Sept. 11, aircraft leases have dropped considerably and crews are more available," he said.

The airline will start operating in April, hauling passengers between Moscow and Dublin and Shannon, at first via two European cities, one of which will be Warsaw. The part of the journey from the European cities to Moscow will be done on behalf of Aeroflot. The airline will operate two Boeing-737-400s.

Russia's flagship carrier has direct flights to Dublin and Shannon. Aeroflot spokesman Lev Koshlyakov said those flights may be scrapped when the arrangement with SkyNet is up and flying.

Aeroflot has inter-line agreements with 129 airlines.