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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Aeroflot Flights Depart From New Sheremetyevo-3

Sheremetyevo-3, the Moscow airport’s newest terminal, began operating test flights Sunday with a first Aeroflot plane leaving at 9:15 a.m. for Sochi.

A total of four flights were scheduled to leave from the new Terminal D, as it’s also known, while the daily number will increase to eight within two weeks, said Albert Shcherbakov, general director of Terminal, the new unit’s owner and operator.

Initially, the flights will go to Sochi and cities in the Far East, and from Dec. 6 planes will also start flying to St. Petersburg. The number of flights will steadily increase, and by Feb. 6 Aeroflot will move all of its domestic and international flights to the new hub, Shcherbakov said.

Eventually, the state carrier’s partners in the SkyTeam air alliance are also expected to move to Terminal D.

“We decided to go with a ‘soft launch’ to avoid the sorts of problems that other airports had when opening new terminals,” Shcherbakov said.

In March 2008, British Airways opened its new terminal at London’s Heathrow Airport, but glitches in the baggage system resulted in some 28,000 lost pieces of luggage in the terminal’s first 10 days. The airline also had to cancel about 500 flights.

Shcherbakov said that only a small part of the space available for rent by commercial tenants was occupied, but the number of restaurants and stores would increase in the coming months.

Aeroflot, which owns 52.82 percent of the terminal, said in its first-half results that $785.8 million was spent on construction, up from earlier estimates of $430 million. The remainder is owned by two state banks — Vneshekonombank, with 25 percent, and VTB, with 22.18 percent — that helped finance the project. The terminal should be able to handle 12 million passengers per year, or roughly the combined capacity of the airport’s remaining terminals.