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Jutlander
Topic Author
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Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:04 am

AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:26 pm

On Wikipedia it says AS served VVO from 1993 to 1998. That's an amazing distance! VVO is almost China.

I'm curious about these flights. What equipment did they use? From where did they fly? Why VVO? I mean, CTS is closer and I assume it's a greater market than VVO but they never flew there. They did fly to UUS from 1997 to 1998, which is only just opposite CTS.

In 1998 AS ended all service to Russia, but would they be able to restore it if they wanted? What about Japan? As I said, CTS is closer than VVO which they did serve. With more modern equipment, maybe they could even serve NRT? After all, assuming they flew from ANC, NRT is barely further than VVO.
 
Antarius
Posts: 3436
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:27 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:49 pm

Jutlander wrote:
On Wikipedia it says AS served VVO from 1993 to 1998. That's an amazing distance! VVO is almost China.

I'm curious about these flights. What equipment did they use? From where did they fly? Why VVO? I mean, CTS is closer and I assume it's a greater market than VVO but they never flew there. They did fly to UUS from 1997 to 1998, which is only just opposite CTS.

In 1998 AS ended all service to Russia, but would they be able to restore it if they wanted? What about Japan? As I said, CTS is closer than VVO which they did serve. With more modern equipment, maybe they could even serve NRT? After all, assuming they flew from ANC, NRT is barely further than VVO.


They flew to several destinations in Eastern Russia. From what I could remember, they said they were profitable. Combination of industry, oil and tourism once the cold war ended. VVO is a sizeable business city and the major one out there.

The flights ended when Russia defaulted on their debt in 1998.
 
USAirALB
Posts: 2652
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:46 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:50 pm

This has been discussed in great detail on multiple threads from this site. There's a plethora of info you can find with the search feature...it's a fascinating topic.

In a nut shell, the flights were initially profitable.

Both passenger/cargo loads were supposedly excellent. Tons of Russians would come to ANC and shop and from the US POS, AS marketed the flight to the high-yielding "adventure" tourism sector which was beginning to boom at the time of the dot com era. This is in addition to oil/gas business the flight carried.

The flights were a logistical nightmare from what I have read. AS carried mechanics and spare parts onboard, and the facilities at the Russian airports were sparse/dilapidated. The services were really pushing the Mad Dogs to the limit, and IIRC there might have been radar/navigation aid issues.

I think the Russian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s killed the flight, in addition to the above logistical issues.
 
Weatherwatcher1
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Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Wed Dec 09, 2020 9:19 pm

The routes changed over time. Vladivostok was served with one or two stops in cities such as Magadan, Petropavlovsk, Kharbarovsk on MD80s that carried mechanics, spare parts and had extra fuel tanks.
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:56 am

Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.
 
flyfresno
Posts: 1377
Joined: Tue May 02, 2006 6:18 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:55 am

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


Fascinating. Thanks for sharing!
 
UA777EWRTLV
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:50 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:35 am

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


One of the most informative (and least biased) posts I have read on this site in quite some time. Gripping read on an utterly fascinating topic for those of us interested in this storyline! Thank you for taking the time to post. What was the average load factor? What did crews do for three days in Magadan? How were the flights catered?
 
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Chasensfo
Posts: 332
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Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:35 am

My September 1998 OAG shows the following, all MD-80s:

AS201 SEA-ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO Departing SEA at 1020 and arriving in VVO at 1915, Sunday only.

AS205 SEA-ANC-PKC-UUS-VVO Departing SEA at 1020 and arriving in VVO at 1935, Tuesday only.

Interestingly but unrelated, at the time Air Koryo was flying a weekly An-24 from FNJ-VVO on Thursdays (they have VERY few scheduled routes back then) and Korean Air flew MD-80s from GMP 2x weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A cool time for spotters, I'm sure!

Tack, thank you for that amazing info! Was anyone even flying SFO-LGB back then for your deadheads, or did they give you ground transport from LAX\SNA? I am guessing AS205 to PKC\UUS started after you had stopped flying these routes?
 
crownvic
Posts: 2892
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2004 10:16 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:26 am

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


I honestly believe this is an aviation book in the making..fascinating information! you should seriously consider it,,thank you for sharing..
 
DFWEagle
Posts: 169
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:12 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:25 am

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


Thanks for sharing! This is one of the most interesting posts I have read in a while :)
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:04 pm

[threeid] TMB[/threeid]
UA777EWRTLV wrote:
Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


One of the most informative (and least biased) posts I have read on this site in quite some time. Gripping read on an utterly fascinating topic for those of us interested in this storyline! Thank you for taking the time to post. What was the average load factor? What did crews do for three days in Magadan? How were the flights catered?


I’m happy to share and thank you for the kind words. I was only there one season in VVO. After that I was back in the lower 48 or Mexico. Years ago AS commissioned a book on its history. It is a great read, sanitized of course, but does have a chapter on the RFE flights. I believe it’s still for sale, all employees were given a copy. It’s called Character&Characters The Alaska Airlines Story. I was with AS from 1982-2016. We all, save a few, are retired that worked on the start up of GDX/KHV/VVO. But we all stay in contact and try to get reunions whenever we can. AS hired many Russians during that flying and having a chance to see them is a gift. My boss and the guy who really led the operation, is a cat named Charles nickname, “Kit”. He is living a good life in Berkeley now. He is a guy that was one of the smartest aviation dudes I’ve ever known and one of the most fun guys ever. If it was not for him, my career at AS, while nice, would’ve been boring and average. Since he does little online, I feel it’s important to know, with out disclosing his full name here, just how valuable he was to not only my career, but to the success of AS international operations. Cheers.
 
Western727
Posts: 2031
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:38 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:15 pm

Tack wrote:
[threeid] TMB[/threeid]
UA777EWRTLV wrote:
Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


One of the most informative (and least biased) posts I have read on this site in quite some time. Gripping read on an utterly fascinating topic for those of us interested in this storyline! Thank you for taking the time to post. What was the average load factor? What did crews do for three days in Magadan? How were the flights catered?


I’m happy to share and thank you for the kind words. I was only there one season in VVO. After that I was back in the lower 48 or Mexico. Years ago AS commissioned a book on its history. It is a great read, sanitized of course, but does have a chapter on the RFE flights. I believe it’s still for sale, all employees were given a copy. It’s called Character&Characters The Alaska Airlines Story. I was with AS from 1982-2016. We all, save a few, are retired that worked on the start up of GDX/KHV/VVO. But we all stay in contact and try to get reunions whenever we can. AS hired many Russians during that flying and having a chance to see them is a gift. My boss and the guy who really led the operation, is a cat named Charles nickname, “Kit”. He is living a good life in Berkeley now. He is a guy that was one of the smartest aviation dudes I’ve ever known and one of the most fun guys ever. If it was not for him, my career at AS, while nice, would’ve been boring and average. Since he does little online, I feel it’s important to know, with out disclosing his full name here, just how valuable he was to not only my career, but to the success of AS international operations. Cheers.


Intriguing. Thank you, Tack! Incidentally, the book you reference is listed at Amazon: Character & Characters: The Spirit of Alaska Airlines https://www.amazon.com/dp/1933245115/re ... 0FbMNZFEJZ
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:44 pm

Chasensfo wrote:
My September 1998 OAG shows the following, all MD-80s:

AS201 SEA-ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO Departing SEA at 1020 and arriving in VVO at 1915, Sunday only.

AS205 SEA-ANC-PKC-UUS-VVO Departing SEA at 1020 and arriving in VVO at 1935, Tuesday only.

Interestingly but unrelated, at the time Air Koryo was flying a weekly An-24 from FNJ-VVO on Thursdays (they have VERY few scheduled routes back then) and Korean Air flew MD-80s from GMP 2x weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A cool time for spotters, I'm sure!

Tack, thank you for that amazing info! Was anyone even flying SFO-LGB back then for your deadheads, or did they give you ground transport from LAX\SNA? I am guessing AS205 to PKC\UUS started after you had stopped flying these routes?



After the SI merger we began a big Bay Area flight schedule. It included LGB-SFO and OAK. So the Russia crews would DHD from SFO to LGB on AS. I’m hoping an AS FA is on this board from that time that can speak with absolute confidence on exactly how that line of flying worked. I’m an ops guy, so my involvement with the crews was that I was hired in 1982 when AS began service to LGB and I got to know all the SI employees while working there, and later was a coworker with the former Jet crews. I can tell you from a strictly personal point of view, I’ve never met or became friends with a better, more professional group of people than the SI LGB flight crews. They remain the best ever in my eyes, and many are friends to this day. They were truly a valuable addition to the AS family and they contributed as much as any group to the long time success of AS. (Tails Ted & Bill). So was a small merger but was a brilliant move by AS. Lol and for the insiders here that high praise is coming from a true ‘MO! Cheers.
Last edited by Tack on Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
x1234
Posts: 1145
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:50 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:50 pm

Tack, thanks for the RU insight from AS.
 
departedflights
Posts: 225
Joined: Fri May 25, 2018 2:50 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 3:49 pm

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable....


I didn't want to quote your entire post again but I must say.... it was truly one of the most interesting posts I may have ever read on this site. Thank you very very much for sharing that! Truly incredible!
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 4:49 pm

departedflights wrote:
Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable....


I didn't want to quote your entire post again but I must say.... it was truly one of the most interesting posts I may have ever read on this site. Thank you very very much for sharing that! Truly incredible!



Thank you, I appreciate that. I don’t want to be that guy that keeps beating a topic up, but I went back through my notes/memorabilia from my one season there. I mis spoke on crew flying lines. The F/A’s were LGB based. Pilots however were SEA based. The year before we operated all 727-200’s. As that jet was slowly leaving the fleet, many pilots who flew the year before had begun transitioning to the MD’s so we kept the SEA base as the pilot pool. Both FA and pilot lines merged in ANC and the crews stayed together for the whole RFE rotation and then separated on their return to ANC. One last thing and then I’ll shut up. The FA’s were in contract negotiations during that summer and had struck a flight or two in the lower 48 during what they called CHAOS. Basically the F/A’s would walk off a specific flight, go home on the unions dime and then then report back for duty for their next flight. All legal BTW. It concerned AS enough that they trained every manager they could on both the 727/MD/737 as a flight attendant. Took them from their duties and required that they fly on trips as a passenger and step in should a flight be struck by CHAOS. This included the Russia flying. It was funny because if the FA’s CHAOS’d any RFE internal flight they were screwed because they’d have to cover room. Board and transportation out. Not easy to do. So we never had to deal with that. However the managers had to fly lines just like the FA’s and they hated it! Around July , Kit, our Director, had convinced the company that there was no way an RFE flight would be CHAOS’d and the Managers were pulled off the jet, but the damage was done as many quit. They got no additional pay and lost a ton of family time. Ok, I promise to only speak if asked a question. Thanks to all for letting me relive an exciting time I was fortunate to be a part of. Cheers!
 
TWA902fly
Posts: 3169
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 1999 5:47 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:31 pm

Here's some route maps:

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010891.html
January 1991 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "begins June 17, 1991"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060892.html
June 1992 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "Service to the Russian Far East resumes June 7, 1992"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060694.html
June 1994 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010995.html
January 1995 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

There are no route maps on that website between 1995 and 2000, but in that time period I believe PKC and UUS were also served briefly (correct me if I am wrong)
Flights were operated by MD-80s. Distances were as follows;
ANC-GDX - 1954sm
GDX-KHV - 1003sm
KHV-VVO - 383sm

ANC = Anchorage, Alaska
GDX = Magadan
KHV = Khabarovsk
VVO = Vladivostok
PKC = Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
UUS = Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Nowadays the only connection is on Yakutia Airlines, summer only, 1x/week ANC-PKC flown by a 737-700. In summer 2017 my wife and I visited Vladivostok and that Yakutia flight was prohibitively expensive. We took the cheapest route from Fairbanks, FAI-SEA-LAX-NRT-ICN-VVO, but we stopped to see friends in both LA and Seoul so it made sense. During most of the year, the fastest routes from Alaska to the Russian Far East are via SEA and NRT/ICN. It has to be one of the most circuitous journeys in the world for such geographically close locations. The only other ones I can think of are some South Pacific Islands that require a connection in Australia or Easter Island via SCL back across the Pacific.

'902
 
MrPeanut
Posts: 261
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:36 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:32 pm

Tack wrote:
departedflights wrote:
Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable....


I didn't want to quote your entire post again but I must say.... it was truly one of the most interesting posts I may have ever read on this site. Thank you very very much for sharing that! Truly incredible!



Thank you, I appreciate that. I don’t want to be that guy that keeps beating a topic up, but I went back through my notes/memorabilia from my one season there. I mis spoke on crew flying lines. The F/A’s were LGB based. Pilots however were SEA based. The year before we operated all 727-200’s. As that jet was slowly leaving the fleet, many pilots who flew the year before had begun transitioning to the MD’s so we kept the SEA base as the pilot pool. Both FA and pilot lines merged in ANC and the crews stayed together for the whole RFE rotation and then separated on their return to ANC. One last thing and then I’ll shut up. The FA’s were in contract negotiations during that summer and had struck a flight or two in the lower 48 during what they called CHAOS. Basically the F/A’s would walk off a specific flight, go home on the unions dime and then then report back for duty for their next flight. All legal BTW. It concerned AS enough that they trained every manager they could on both the 727/MD/737 as a flight attendant. Took them from their duties and required that they fly on trips as a passenger and step in should a flight be struck by CHAOS. This included the Russia flying. It was funny because if the FA’s CHAOS’d any RFE internal flight they were screwed because they’d have to cover room. Board and transportation out. Not easy to do. So we never had to deal with that. However the managers had to fly lines just like the FA’s and they hated it! Around July , Kit, our Director, had convinced the company that there was no way an RFE flight would be CHAOS’d and the Managers were pulled off the jet, but the damage was done as many quit. They got no additional pay and lost a ton of family time. Ok, I promise to only speak if asked a question. Thanks to all for letting me relive an exciting time I was fortunate to be a part of. Cheers!


Why were LGB based attendants used? Seems like a logistical nightmare rather than using a SEA or ANC based crew.
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:53 pm

MrPeanut wrote:
Tack wrote:
departedflights wrote:

I didn't want to quote your entire post again but I must say.... it was truly one of the most interesting posts I may have ever read on this site. Thank you very very much for sharing that! Truly incredible!



Thank you, I appreciate that. I don’t want to be that guy that keeps beating a topic up, but I went back through my notes/memorabilia from my one season there. I mis spoke on crew flying lines. The F/A’s were LGB based. Pilots however were SEA based. The year before we operated all 727-200’s. As that jet was slowly leaving the fleet, many pilots who flew the year before had begun transitioning to the MD’s so we kept the SEA base as the pilot pool. Both FA and pilot lines merged in ANC and the crews stayed together for the whole RFE rotation and then separated on their return to ANC. One last thing and then I’ll shut up. The FA’s were in contract negotiations during that summer and had struck a flight or two in the lower 48 during what they called CHAOS. Basically the F/A’s would walk off a specific flight, go home on the unions dime and then then report back for duty for their next flight. All legal BTW. It concerned AS enough that they trained every manager they could on both the 727/MD/737 as a flight attendant. Took them from their duties and required that they fly on trips as a passenger and step in should a flight be struck by CHAOS. This included the Russia flying. It was funny because if the FA’s CHAOS’d any RFE internal flight they were screwed because they’d have to cover room. Board and transportation out. Not easy to do. So we never had to deal with that. However the managers had to fly lines just like the FA’s and they hated it! Around July , Kit, our Director, had convinced the company that there was no way an RFE flight would be CHAOS’d and the Managers were pulled off the jet, but the damage was done as many quit. They got no additional pay and lost a ton of family time. Ok, I promise to only speak if asked a question. Thanks to all for letting me relive an exciting time I was fortunate to be a part of. Cheers!


Why were LGB based attendants used? Seems like a logistical nightmare rather than using a SEA or ANC based crew.


Lol it was. The LGB base were all former SI attendants, with a handful of SEA xfers. The Base manager was a woman who ran a tight ship, and even though she’d be in a lot of gray area contractually, had a huge amount of respect from the rank and file. SI was not a union shop when we acquired them, and that group took a huge amount of pride in their work. Further AS was negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the AFA that summer and the SEA base was the base that was participating in CHAOS of flights. The base manager and my boss were both from SI. They had a great relationship and she wanted to give the LGB base more important, and bigger money flying lines. I guarantee there’s more to this story on exactly why the LGB base was chosen, but the above is the story I was privy too based on my low level need to know. SEA based FA’s swore it was to penalize them. Either way you’re exactly right, the logistics of the whole operation were a nightmare. The FA flying lines were no exception. The caveat being, they were the perfect choice to be isolated together in the RFE, as the crews were instructed to have all 6- pilots, and FA’s stay together in every off duty activity. The LGB base was a close group of people. After my one season, as AS opened other RFE cities, the ANC base played a huge roll in crewing flights. Cheers.
Last edited by Tack on Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
x1234
Posts: 1145
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:50 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:54 pm

The Russian Far East airlines/destinations all fly into ICN because of the superior hub and connectivity. Also Russian citizens are visa-free to South Korea unlike Japan and China (easy to get). KE/SkyTeam (DL+AM) from ICN serves more destiations in the Americas than any other carrier non-stop (LAX, SFO, SEA, YVR, LAS, DFW, MSP, ORD, DTW, ATL, YYZ, BOS, JFK, IAD, ATL, MEX).
 
hoons90
Posts: 3872
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 10:15 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:24 pm

x1234 wrote:
The Russian Far East airlines/destinations all fly into ICN because of the superior hub and connectivity. Also Russian citizens are visa-free to South Korea unlike Japan and China (easy to get). KE/SkyTeam (DL+AM) from ICN serves more destiations in the Americas than any other carrier non-stop (LAX, SFO, SEA, YVR, LAS, DFW, MSP, ORD, DTW, ATL, YYZ, BOS, JFK, IAD, ATL, MEX).


Not only that, but when I worked at the airport, I've seen KE+OZ connecting itineraries such as YYZ-ICN-UUS/KHV when OZ still flew to those places.
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:32 pm

TWA902fly wrote:
Here's some route maps:

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010891.html
January 1991 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "begins June 17, 1991"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060892.html
June 1992 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "Service to the Russian Far East resumes June 7, 1992"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060694.html
June 1994 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010995.html
January 1995 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

There are no route maps on that website between 1995 and 2000, but in that time period I believe PKC and UUS were also served briefly (correct me if I am wrong)
Flights were operated by MD-80s. Distances were as follows;
ANC-GDX - 1954sm
GDX-KHV - 1003sm
KHV-VVO - 383sm

ANC = Anchorage, Alaska
GDX = Magadan
KHV = Khabarovsk
VVO = Vladivostok
PKC = Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
UUS = Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Nowadays the only connection is on Yakutia Airlines, summer only, 1x/week ANC-PKC flown by a 737-700. In summer 2017 my wife and I visited Vladivostok and that Yakutia flight was prohibitively expensive. We took the cheapest route from Fairbanks, FAI-SEA-LAX-NRT-ICN-VVO, but we stopped to see friends in both LA and Seoul so it made sense. During most of the year, the fastest routes from Alaska to the Russian Far East are via SEA and NRT/ICN. It has to be one of the most circuitous journeys in the world for such geographically close locations. The only other ones I can think of are some South Pacific Islands that require a connection in Australia or Easter Island via SCL back across the Pacific.

'902


Thanks! When we left to go over before the start of service, I flew with my boss from PDX-ICN on DL MD-11. Stayed over, then went to KHV on Aeroflot IL-62. Honestly it was way more comfortable than the AS routing. The US employee who was the VVO manager is now with Yakutia. He is-was running their AK-RFE service before it was suspended for COVID.
 
chrisair
Posts: 2230
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2000 11:32 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 6:38 pm

Tack wrote:
I can tell you from a strictly personal point of view, I’ve never met or became friends with a better, more professional group of people than the SI LGB flight crews. They remain the best ever in my eyes, and many are friends to this day.


I remember the SI crews as some of the best, especially right after the merger and through the 90s. That’s what really endeared me to Alaska, and still does to this day. Not sure there are any SI folks left. It’s always a treat to get the 35+ year FAs unlike other airlines.

Great posts. Thanks for sharing.
 
User avatar
RWA380
Posts: 5913
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 10:51 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:49 pm

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable. I was based in VVO for AS the first year of operation. Which was the second year or our Far East season. Loads to all three cities were crap, GDX, KHV and VVO. We accepted no cargo the first few years. The MD’s took over all the flying that year as well, and the Russian runways were set in concrete plates and the jets just had the hell beat out of them. MD’s were CAT III but the Feds wouldn’t certify the Russian airport nav-aides so we operated CAT1. That caused an expensive and dangerous diversion to Anadyr’. Our operation was crewed by the LGB pilot and FA base. (I was TDY in VVO from LGB). Crew would DHD to SEA. Fly a SEA-ANC leg. Layover. Then fly the Russian Far East flights. GDX was our crew layover city. We always had 2 full crews there, along with a mechanic, who lived there thru the season and flew on every intra Russia flight with a sh-t ton of rotable parts stuffing the belly. We also carried an flight deck interpreter on each flight from ANC-Russia and on the inter Russia flying. Two lived in GDX for the season. A typical routing was. ANC-GDX, layover. GDX-KHV or VVO round trip, layover. Then GDX-ANC-SFO, layover then DHD back to LGB. It was a huge operational challenge. Flight planning was done via ARINC and routed via the AFTAN system from SEA dispatch to Europe to Moscow to GDX/KHV/VVO. the only Sat phone we had was KHV and GDX. We didn’t install one in VVO that year. KHV/VVO were only a few day a week operation, so crews would get a total of three days in GDX on their flying lines. Because the Far East of Russia was literally equal to a third world country, AS had to provide or start all the infrastructure for the flying. Up to hiring a chef in GDX to provide all the daily meals for the crew because we couldn’t count on the Russian restaurants to be open or have food. For the tours, we had to provide bi-lingual US citizen tour guides in each city. They lived in their assigned city the whole season as well. While the RT fares were good, very few passengers could buy just the airfare. Because of the VISA requirements, 95 percent or more of passengers were on special tour/hotel/food packages which depressed our yields even more. AS covered all our lodging, food, and a Russian driver, there was just no way to make that flying profitable. Russia was a pet project of a former CEO who saved AS from bankruptcy, and AS really tried to honor his dream of connecting the Russian Far East with the west coast. Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


Stellar information & what a great read, thanks for sharing.
 
User avatar
Melbourne
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:17 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:20 pm

Aeroflot was the first airline to commence services to the West Coast via ANC from VVO, From my recollection the flight flew VVO-PKC-ANC-SEA.

Vladivostok Air (XF) operated flights to Anchorage with Tu-204-300 aircraft for a while, eventually folding into Aeroflot as a subsidiary and now Yakutia connects the Eastern region of Russia to Alaska with 737s from Petroplav (PKC) as follows:

R3509 PKC2125 – 0550ANC 73W 1
R3510 ANC0730 – 0815+1PKC 73W 1
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 8314
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:54 pm

TWA902fly wrote:
Here's some route maps:

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010891.html
January 1991 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "begins June 17, 1991"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060892.html
June 1992 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "Service to the Russian Far East resumes June 7, 1992"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060694.html
June 1994 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010995.html
January 1995 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

There are no route maps on that website between 1995 and 2000, but in that time period I believe PKC and UUS were also served briefly (correct me if I am wrong)
Flights were operated by MD-80s. Distances were as follows;
ANC-GDX - 1954sm
GDX-KHV - 1003sm
KHV-VVO - 383sm

ANC = Anchorage, Alaska
GDX = Magadan
KHV = Khabarovsk
VVO = Vladivostok
PKC = Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
UUS = Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Nowadays the only connection is on Yakutia Airlines, summer only, 1x/week ANC-PKC flown by a 737-700. In summer 2017 my wife and I visited Vladivostok and that Yakutia flight was prohibitively expensive. We took the cheapest route from Fairbanks, FAI-SEA-LAX-NRT-ICN-VVO, but we stopped to see friends in both LA and Seoul so it made sense. During most of the year, the fastest routes from Alaska to the Russian Far East are via SEA and NRT/ICN. It has to be one of the most circuitous journeys in the world for such geographically close locations. The only other ones I can think of are some South Pacific Islands that require a connection in Australia or Easter Island via SCL back across the Pacific.

'902


I was on an Aeroflot IL with some hunters that went ANC-SEA-JFK-SVO-PKC. Not circuitous, but certainly the long way round. I had flown JFK-SVO-PKC, to meet a jet in PKC.
 
TWA902fly
Posts: 3169
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 1999 5:47 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Fri Dec 11, 2020 6:12 pm

Here's an Aeroflot route map from 1998... I remember them using ANC as a stopover to the west coast.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erussell1984/41871355010

Looks like flights originating in KHV, GDX, and PKC, stopping in ANC, continuing to SEA and SFO. I believe this service was eventually replaced with an IL-96, then 767, then 777 and originated in SVO, with the routing being SVO-SEA-SFO for a few years (with ANC services cut), then just SVO-SFO (with SEA services cut). The far east-US west coast flights via ANC were operated by both IL-62 and Tu-154 aircraft.

Here is an Aeroflot Tu-154 in SEA in 1995:



And a Magadan Airlines Tu-154 in SEA in 1998 (A babyflot):



And an Aeroflot IL-62 in SEA in 1999:



'902
 
9w748capt
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:27 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Fri Dec 11, 2020 6:34 pm

Tack wrote:
TWA902fly wrote:
Here's some route maps:

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010891.html
January 1991 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "begins June 17, 1991"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060892.html
June 1992 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "Service to the Russian Far East resumes June 7, 1992"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060694.html
June 1994 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010995.html
January 1995 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

There are no route maps on that website between 1995 and 2000, but in that time period I believe PKC and UUS were also served briefly (correct me if I am wrong)
Flights were operated by MD-80s. Distances were as follows;
ANC-GDX - 1954sm
GDX-KHV - 1003sm
KHV-VVO - 383sm

ANC = Anchorage, Alaska
GDX = Magadan
KHV = Khabarovsk
VVO = Vladivostok
PKC = Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
UUS = Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Nowadays the only connection is on Yakutia Airlines, summer only, 1x/week ANC-PKC flown by a 737-700. In summer 2017 my wife and I visited Vladivostok and that Yakutia flight was prohibitively expensive. We took the cheapest route from Fairbanks, FAI-SEA-LAX-NRT-ICN-VVO, but we stopped to see friends in both LA and Seoul so it made sense. During most of the year, the fastest routes from Alaska to the Russian Far East are via SEA and NRT/ICN. It has to be one of the most circuitous journeys in the world for such geographically close locations. The only other ones I can think of are some South Pacific Islands that require a connection in Australia or Easter Island via SCL back across the Pacific.

'902


Thanks! When we left to go over before the start of service, I flew with my boss from PDX-ICN on DL MD-11. Stayed over, then went to KHV on Aeroflot IL-62. Honestly it was way more comfortable than the AS routing. The US employee who was the VVO manager is now with Yakutia. He is-was running their AK-RFE service before it was suspended for COVID.


WOW! Truly fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for sharing!

I'm really intrigued by what the layovers must have been like. What did crews do for days at a time in Magadan? And there wouldn't even be restaurants open? My goodness. What were accommodations like? Were there hotels up to even 2 or 3 star international standards? Sounds like an adventure indeed. Thank you so much for sharing your insights! A breath of fresh air from the normal drivel on this forum nowadays.
 
FCOTSTW
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:14 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:49 pm

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights ... .... Sorry this is so long winded. Feel free to PM for any additional info.


WOW! What a description! This shows a massive effort of logistics and maintenance for a few flights... impressive.
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Sat Dec 12, 2020 2:08 am

9w748capt wrote:
Tack wrote:
TWA902fly wrote:
Here's some route maps:

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010891.html
January 1991 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "begins June 17, 1991"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060892.html
June 1992 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV "Service to the Russian Far East resumes June 7, 1992"

http://www.departedflights.com/AS060694.html
June 1994 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

http://www.departedflights.com/AS010995.html
January 1995 shows;
ANC-GDX-KHV-VVO

There are no route maps on that website between 1995 and 2000, but in that time period I believe PKC and UUS were also served briefly (correct me if I am wrong)
Flights were operated by MD-80s. Distances were as follows;
ANC-GDX - 1954sm
GDX-KHV - 1003sm
KHV-VVO - 383sm

ANC = Anchorage, Alaska
GDX = Magadan
KHV = Khabarovsk
VVO = Vladivostok
PKC = Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
UUS = Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Nowadays the only connection is on Yakutia Airlines, summer only, 1x/week ANC-PKC flown by a 737-700. In summer 2017 my wife and I visited Vladivostok and that Yakutia flight was prohibitively expensive. We took the cheapest route from Fairbanks, FAI-SEA-LAX-NRT-ICN-VVO, but we stopped to see friends in both LA and Seoul so it made sense. During most of the year, the fastest routes from Alaska to the Russian Far East are via SEA and NRT/ICN. It has to be one of the most circuitous journeys in the world for such geographically close locations. The only other ones I can think of are some South Pacific Islands that require a connection in Australia or Easter Island via SCL back across the Pacific.

'902


Thanks! When we left to go over before the start of service, I flew with my boss from PDX-ICN on DL MD-11. Stayed over, then went to KHV on Aeroflot IL-62. Honestly it was way more comfortable than the AS routing. The US employee who was the VVO manager is now with Yakutia. He is-was running their AK-RFE service before it was suspended for COVID.


WOW! Truly fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for sharing!

I'm really intrigued by what the layovers must have been like. What did crews do for days at a time in Magadan? And there wouldn't even be restaurants open? My goodness. What were accommodations like? Were there hotels up to even 2 or 3 star international standards? Sounds like an adventure indeed. Thank you so much for sharing your insights! A breath of fresh air from the normal drivel on this forum nowadays.


Thanks for asking. I’m really enjoying sharing this as I was beyond blessed to be a part of it. The layovers were great. The company asked that the crews stay together during their whole time in the RFE. As I mentioned the decision to use LGB based FA’s that year was brilliant. A very close knit group that was inclusive of all orig AS hires. SI did a spectacular job in hiring both pilots and FA’s. So even though the pilots were original AS, they had a fantastic time there too with the LGB FA’s. Most pilots that bid RFE had already flown it on the ‘27 before jumping to the MD’s. And as stated the season I was there was the first for those jets. The crews stayed at a former Politburo Dacha. It had 17 rooms with two of what was equivalent to an executive suit with its own bathroom, reserved for each Capt, but in reality was the crew pre-party room. The rest of the rooms had a number of shared bathrooms, but overall very nice accommodations. Say 3 stars with a tone of communist history. We chose it because most RFE cities had only one government run hot water plant. During the summer is when they performed maintenance on the one hot water line/plant for each city, so it was possible that you had only ball shrinking cold water or no water at all. (Anyone who knows more about why hot water was such a commodity in Russia, feel free to jump in ) The Dacha also had a massive dinning room and great bar, which were the hub of crew activity after 5p, as you can imagine. Crews spent a lot of their day together sightseeing in GDX. Shopping at roadside kiosks etc. Gulags and a ton of military and communist party history parks on how Russia defeated the nazis was spread around all cities and gave one a chance to climb in and on some amazing Cold War mil relics. Since the majority of our pilots came from the military it was definitely eye candy. The restaurants and food in general at that time was horrible and scarce. Most had 1 or 2 item menus and very little food supplies to boot. So we had a kitchen and chef set up for 3 meals and snacks every day. The ruble was worthless. Even the Russians used US dollars. So days off were spent, as a crew, sightseeing. Shopping, reading, resting and prepping for the huge AS Crew Happy Hour in the evening. We had an agreement with SU that let us buy tickets in rubles, which were stupid cheap, like 30-40 bucks each way, so on off days I could fly to GDX and hangout with the crews. (And log some YAK-40. & TU-154 time. Including some J/S rides). A quick side note, the hot water issue was so bad in all three cities that AS let all of us stationed there find our own accommodations and expense it. (They gave us all an advance, cash per diem that we had to account for at the end of our tour.) For instance the VVO airport is in Artyom, pretty far from the city center in VVO. I elected to stay at the Aeroflot crew hotel just across from the terminal as they always had hot water. I paid for all three rooms that were in a crew berthing and met some of the coolest Aeroflot crew ever. Russians in general are full of life, especially as this was just before Yeltsin over threw Gorbachev, so they were really feeling independence . AS was good about taking care of everyone who was in Russia, from crew to staff.
Last edited by Tack on Sat Dec 12, 2020 2:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Sat Dec 12, 2020 2:25 am

Tack wrote:
9w748capt wrote:
Tack wrote:

Thanks! When we left to go over before the start of service, I flew with my boss from PDX-ICN on DL MD-11. Stayed over, then went to KHV on Aeroflot IL-62. Honestly it was way more comfortable than the AS routing. The US employee who was the VVO manager is now with Yakutia. He is-was running their AK-RFE service before it was suspended for COVID.


WOW! Truly fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for sharing!

I'm really intrigued by what the layovers must have been like. What did crews do for days at a time in Magadan? And there wouldn't even be restaurants open? My goodness. What were accommodations like? Were there hotels up to even 2 or 3 star international standards? Sounds like an adventure indeed. Thank you so much for sharing your insights! A breath of fresh air from the normal drivel on this forum nowadays.


Thanks for asking. I’m really enjoying sharing this as I was beyond blessed to be a part of it. The layovers were great. The company asked that the crews stay together during their whole time in the RFE. As I mentioned the decision to use LGB based FA’s that year was brilliant. A very close knit group that was inclusive of all orig AS hires. SI did a spectacular job in hiring both pilots and FA’s. So even though the pilots were original AS, they had a fantastic time there too with the LGB FA’s. Most pilots that bid RFE had already flown it on the ‘27 before jumping to the MD’s. And as stated the season I was there was the first for those jets. The crews stayed at a former Politburo Dacha. It had 17 rooms with two of what was equivalent to an executive suit with its own bathroom, reserved for each Capt, but in reality was the crew pre-party room. The rest of the rooms had a number of shared bathrooms, but overall very nice accommodations. Say 3 stars with a ton of communist history- pictures etc. We chose it because most RFE cities had only one government run hot water plant. During the summer is when they performed maintenance on the one hot water line/plant for each city, so it was possible that you had only ball shrinking cold water or no water at all. (Anyone who knows more about why hot water was such a commodity in Russia, feel free to jump in ) The Dacha also had a massive dinning room and great bar, which were the hub of crew activity after 5p, as you can imagine. Crews spent a lot of their day together sightseeing in GDX. Shopping at roadside kiosks etc. Gulags and a ton of military and communist party history parks on how Russia defeated the nazis was spread around all cities and gave one a chance to climb in and in some amazing Cold War mil relics. Since the majority of our pilots came from the military it was definitely eye candy. The restaurants and food in general at that time was horrible. Most had 1 or 2 item menus and very little food supplies to boot. So we had a kitchen and chef/cook set up for 3 meals and snacks every day. Mark, our VVO general manager and a great dude, let me fly up to GDX from time to time to hang out with crews I knew from LGB. We had a deal with Aeroflot that let me buy tickets in rubles which was stupid cheap, or I was added to the crew Gen-Dec and flew the AS flight back to GDX. ( it was actually more fun to fly Aeroflot as I got rides on YAK-40’s and TU-152’s.) The ruble was worthless. Even the Russians used US dollars. So days were spent, as a crew, sightseeing. Shopping reading, resting and prepping for the huge AS Crew Happy Hour in the evening. A quick side note, the hot water issue was so bad in all three cities that AS let all of us stationed there find our own accommodations and expense it. (They gave us all an advance, cash per diem that we had to account for at the end of our tour.) For instance the VVO airport is in Artyom, pretty far from the city center in VVO. I chose to stay at the Aeroflot crew hotel just across from the terminal as they always had hot water. I paid for all three rooms that were in a crew berthing and met some of the coolest Aeroflot crew ever. Them crews are lit. AS was good about taking care of everyone who was in Russia, from crew to staff.
 
Jutlander
Topic Author
Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:04 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:06 am

Wow, a lot of useful info. Thanks everyone!
 
gte439u
Posts: 357
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 7:49 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:37 pm

Jutlander wrote:
Wow, a lot of useful info. Thanks everyone!


I agree. And a special thanks to Tack. Threads like these are why I keep coming back to A.net.
 
User avatar
CrimsonNL
Posts: 2203
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:34 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:28 pm

Fascinating stories Tack, thanks for sharing! :D
 
workhorse
Posts: 868
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2005 11:35 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 10:42 pm

Tack wrote:
(Anyone who knows more about why hot water was such a commodity in Russia, feel free to jump in )


It's a bit of offtopic here but here's why:

In the Western countries only "regular", cold water is supplied to buildings. Then it is either heated by a collective boiler, usually located in the basement, or by individual boilers that people have in their apartments.

In Russia / USSR, water was heated at the power plant and distributed to the whole city through underground pipelines. So, instead of one, you had two distinct water supplying networks: one for cold drinkable water, one for hot water, used both for heating the buildings and for shower / kitchen. Of course, this system wasted a lot of energy, but coal/gas/oil was dirt cheap and machinery (including boilers) expensive, so I guess it somehow made sense to have one huge boiler at the powerplant instead of hundreds of thousands in the buildings.

However, the pipelines, due to extreme temperature conditions (almost boiling water inside and freezing soil outside) were subject to corrosion. So every summer they needed to check the state of the pipeline and repare/replace corroded sections.
 
USAirALB
Posts: 2652
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:46 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 10:49 pm

Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable.

Thanks for the informative post.

Obviously because of your history you have more knowledge of the subject than the common enthusiast, but why do you think the flights have always been labeled as "profitable". Do a quick search on a.net and most of the threads on the subject consistently say the flights were profitable until the financial crisis hit and the Ruble collapsed.
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:17 pm

workhorse wrote:
Tack wrote:
(Anyone who knows more about why hot water was such a commodity in Russia, feel free to jump in )


It's a bit of offtopic here but here's why:

In the Western countries only "regular", cold water is supplied to buildings. Then it is either heated by a collective boiler, usually located in the basement, or by individual boilers that people have in their apartments.

In Russia / USSR, water was heated at the power plant and distributed to the whole city through underground pipelines. So, instead of one, you had two distinct water supplying networks: one for cold drinkable water, one for hot water, used both for heating the buildings and for shower / kitchen. Of course, this system wasted a lot of energy, but coal/gas/oil was dirt cheap and machinery (including boilers) expensive, so I guess it somehow made sense to have one huge boiler at the powerplant instead of hundreds of thousands in the buildings.

However, the pipelines, due to extreme temperature conditions (almost boiling water inside and freezing soil outside) were subject to corrosion. So every summer they needed to check the state of the pipeline and repare/replace corroded sections.



THANK YOU! I actually had someone tell me it was to fix the one hot water pipe or line, but I was young and never believed it. Appreciate the explanation. Cheers!
 
Tack
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:22 pm

USAirALB wrote:
Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable.

Thanks for the informative post.

Obviously because of your history you have more knowledge of the subject than the common enthusiast, but why do you think the flights have always been labeled as "profitable". Do a quick search on a.net and most of the threads on the subject consistently say the flights were profitable until the financial crisis hit and the Ruble collapsed.



That is something many of us who were involved in the RFE always ask. Now I was only there the one season for VVO’s inaugural. We’ve started to guess that maybe as the routes matured that the initial ridiculous start up costs were amortized over the years and that the routes were turning a profit. However, knowing how much AS loves $$ and especially good pub, we’re skeptical because when they pulled out, it was stated never to return, so the yield couldn’t have been much if any.
 
AntonioMartin
Posts: 903
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:58 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:59 pm

Chasensfo wrote:
My September 1998 OAG shows the following, all MD-80s:

, at the time Air Koryo was flying a weekly An-24 from FNJ-VVO on Thursdays (they have VERY few scheduled routes back then)

Assuming you mean Air Koryo, they STILL DO!
 
USAirALB
Posts: 2652
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:46 am

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Tue Dec 15, 2020 12:23 am

Tack wrote:
USAirALB wrote:
Tack wrote:
Unfortunately the flights were never profitable.

Thanks for the informative post.

Obviously because of your history you have more knowledge of the subject than the common enthusiast, but why do you think the flights have always been labeled as "profitable". Do a quick search on a.net and most of the threads on the subject consistently say the flights were profitable until the financial crisis hit and the Ruble collapsed.



That is something many of us who were involved in the RFE always ask. Now I was only there the one season for VVO’s inaugural. We’ve started to guess that maybe as the routes matured that the initial ridiculous start up costs were amortized over the years and that the routes were turning a profit. However, knowing how much AS loves $$ and especially good pub, we’re skeptical because when they pulled out, it was stated never to return, so the yield couldn’t have been much if any.

I'm willing to bet some money that the individual flights themselves were more than likely profitable at some point, but AS struggled with the routes logistically to the point where they were just barely making even on the flights, and the Ruble crisis dried up whatever profitability was there.

It's worth mentioning that the RFE (and I suppose Russia in general) never turned out to be the "new land of opportunity" the West made it out to seem in the early 1990s.
 
WaGuy69
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:14 pm

Re: AS to VVO 1993 - 1998

Wed Dec 16, 2020 6:28 pm

I have read most of the comments on this post, I was raised in Anchorage and I remember these flights flying from ANC to Far East Russia as a travel agent. I sold quite a few of the packages (air/hotel/transfers) to clients who lived in ANC and the surrounding areas.
TACK thank you for the walk down memory lane! A lot of what you said here is AMAZING and people are correct to say here that you could write a book about this! If I remember correctly, each flight had to have a mechanic onboard with tools just incase if the plane broke down the airline had someone to start working on the plane right away. Do you know if this was true TACK?

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