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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

American Airlines Will Fly to Moscow

American Airlines, the world's largest airline, hopes to tap into Russia's booming economy by initiating flights between Moscow and Chicago in June.

American will be the third airline to offer nonstop service to the United States, after Delta Air Lines and Aeroflot, and the first to fly to Chicago after Aeroflot dropped the route after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Unlike Aeroflot and Delta, however, American will fly from Domodedovo Airport instead of Sheremetyevo Airport.

"The Russian economy is booming, and many of our nation's top 100 corporations are doing business there," David Cush, American's senior vice president for global sales, said in a statement Tuesday. "So the time is right to begin serving Moscow."

The added competition promises to reduce ticket prices on trans-Atlantic routes, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said.

"American Airlines flights from Chicago to Moscow are a big win for Illinois travelers," Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in the statement. "Each new international route increases competition among air carriers, while consumers, businesses and tourists benefit from a decrease in ticket prices."

American's Moscow representative, Alex Robertovich, said Wednesday that ticket prices and other details about the planned route were still being ironed out.

American will fly Boeing 767-300 jets between Moscow and Chicago six times a week starting June 2, the statement said. The jets will seat 30 people in business class and 195 in economy.

Passenger numbers are booming between Russia and the United States, said Delta, which offers daily nonstop flights to New York and Atlanta on Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

The flights "are always full and in high demand," said Leonid Tarazov, the airline's representative in Russia.

Tarazov said he was not worried about losing passengers to American. "The market is growing, and there are different niches in it for others to fill," he said.

Foreign investors applauded American's move as a step toward boosting business ties. "We already have direct flights with Delta between New York and Moscow and Moscow and Atlanta, and this will stress the fact that more and more Americans are recognizing the importance of the Russian market," said Andrew Somers, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

Somers emphasized, though, the need for more direct flights, especially from the U.S. West Coast. Aeroflot flies to Los Angeles, but it stopped service to Seattle and San Francisco amid a reshuffle of unprofitable routes after the Sept. 11 attacks. Aeroflot also flies to New York and Washington.

Other U.S. and Russian airlines have considered direct service. Domodedovo Airport director Sergei Rudakov announced in late 2005 that Continental Airlines would offer flights to Newark, New Jersey, starting in spring 2006. Nick Britton, Continental's corporate communications director for Europe, said the airline continuously looks for new routes but "has never announced plans for direct flights from Moscow to destinations in the U.S."

Rudakov said Wednesday that American's decision to pick Domodedovo "once again proves that we have chosen the right development strategy." Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo have been duking it out for airlines, with Sheremetyevo losing several leading carriers in recent years. After British Airways, Iberia, Royal Jordanian and Japan Airlines, American Airlines would be the fifth OneWorld alliance member to go to Domodedovo.

Sheremetyevo, which has taken flak for shoddy service and refusing to give airlines desired landing and departure slots, has fought back by speeding up lines at passport control and cracking down on unscrupulous taxi drivers, among other things.

The new Chicago flight will not only lower ticket prices but save passengers time, said Hisham Elkady, general manager of Misr Travel, whose clients regularly travel to the United States.

"A nonstop flight from Moscow to Chicago is thrilling," Elkady said. "It means no more transfers, no more arriving at odd hours, and it is simply comfortable."

Under American's tentative plan, Moscow-bound flights will leave Chicago at 4:55 p.m. and arrive the next day at 12:15 p.m. Return flights will depart at 4:50 p.m. and arrive at 2:40 p.m. the same day. Westbound flights will operate every day except Monday, while eastbound flights will depart every day except Sunday.