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jsnww81
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Moscow airports pre-1991?

Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:18 pm

A question for the history buffs on here...

How were flights allocated across the four Moscow airports before the end of the USSR in 1991? I know that Sheremetyevo was obviously the international airport, with a "showcase" terminal built in 1980 by the West Germans and the best international standards the Soviet Union could muster. Did VKO, DME and BKA have specific roles that they played, or were flights assigned randomly?

I have a 1993 Aeroflot timetable and it shows operations distributed across SVO, VKO, DME and even Bykovo with very little rhyme or reason. The only pattern I can figure out is that DME handled a lot of longer-range flights to former "domestic" cities like Almaty, Tashkent, etc., and Bykovo seemed to be exclusively Yak-40/Yak-42 operations to cities fairly close to Moscow. Obviously 1993 was immediately after the dissolution of the USSR and airlines were in a state of flux, but wondering how things were organized during the final two decades of Communism.

Anyone have any perspective to offer?
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:47 pm

There was a pattern, and it had to do with the general direction/destinations of flights.

Indeed, SVO housed an international operation, and also flights up north, AFAIR (Leningrad, Murmansk, that sort of thing)

DME was all about Central Asia (Almaty, Tashkent, Ashghabat) and Far East (Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, etc.)

Bykovo indeed was a regional airport, with short-range airplanes operating.

VKO was a predominantly "southern" airport, with flights in the general direction of Black Sea.

I might be somewhat mistaken, but with exception of Bykovo, the concept was clearly -- division by destinations.
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dcajet
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:59 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
There was a pattern, and it had to do with the general direction/destinations of flights.

Indeed, SVO housed an international operation, and also flights up north, AFAIR (Leningrad, Murmansk, that sort of thing)

DME was all about Central Asia (Almaty, Tashkent, Ashghabat) and Far East (Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, etc.)

Bykovo indeed was a regional airport, with short-range airplanes operating.

VKO was a predominantly "southern" airport, with flights in the general direction of Black Sea.

I might be somewhat mistaken, but with exception of Bykovo, the concept was clearly -- division by destinations.


Where planes & crews based at one airport or there was some cross-utilization between MOW airports?
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:21 am

The arrangement was "logical" from the viewpoint of the centralized management system, which existed then, but utterly idiotic from the viewpoint of customers (the approach very common for that system). It was based on the sectors of destinations from Moscow.

SVO served, in addition to international destinations globally, North (Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Syktyvkar, etc.), North-West (LED, Estonia, Latvia, Litva) and West (Belorussia).
VKO served Southwest and South (Ukraine, all relatively long routes to all parts of Russia south of Moscow, and parts of Caucasus republics (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan).
DME served Southeast of Russia (Volgograd, for example), the whole East and Northeast of Russia (Urals, Siberia, Far East) and Central Asian republics (Turkmenia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizia, Kazakhstan).
Bykovo served local areas around Moscow.

That means that the vast majority of transit passengers had to move from one airport to another, typically using special buses using the Moscow beltway.

The vast majority of the routes to/from Moscow were served by the crews located outside of Moscow, in the respective republics or Russian cities. I am aware of the base at DME that served Far East. Obviously, all international routes were served by Moscow-based crews. I do not know if there were any others; maybe. But the vast majority of crews, both cockpit and cabin, came from places like Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Almaty, Tashkent, etc. and left there on the same or the following day. That answers the question about the cross-utilization. That was kind of convenient for management: say, all Uzbek flights were served from DME, and dispatch for them was needed only there. The only splitting (or maybe it was seasonal changes) occurred for Georgia (VKO and DME), and, possibly, for Armenia and Azerbajan (not sure).

Such arrangement, naturally, resulted in fairly different fleets in the airports, which was a question here some time ago. Bykovo with its short local destinations had An-24, Yak-40, Yak-42. DME had aircraft for long-haul flights (initially Tu-114 and then IL-62 for the Far East, IL-62 for the Central Asia, many Tu-154 (IL-18 in the past) and some Tu-134; there were very few Tu-104 in the past, and Tu-144 for Almaty also flew from there, for a short period of time). VKO had what was needed for medium-range flights: mostly Tu-154 and Tu-134 (Tu-104 and IL-18 in the past); it also hosted (and probably still hosts) Government fleet, including IL-62 and IL-96. SVO, in its domestic part, had what was needed for relatively short flights (Tu-134, Tu-124, Tu-104 in the past).
 
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jsnww81
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:11 am

Phosphorus wrote:
There was a pattern, and it had to do with the general direction/destinations of flights.

Indeed, SVO housed an international operation, and also flights up north, AFAIR (Leningrad, Murmansk, that sort of thing)

DME was all about Central Asia (Almaty, Tashkent, Ashghabat) and Far East (Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, etc.)

Bykovo indeed was a regional airport, with short-range airplanes operating.

VKO was a predominantly "southern" airport, with flights in the general direction of Black Sea.

I might be somewhat mistaken, but with exception of Bykovo, the concept was clearly -- division by destinations.


Thanks for the update (and validation that my hypotheses were correct! :) )

I had read in a book somewhere that Domodedovo was purpose-built to handle long-haul intra-Union flights, so not surprising to see it in that role. Interestingly, my 1993 Aeroflot timetable has some IL-86 flights from Vnukovo to a number of longer-range domestic destinations as well.

Interesting that Bykovo fared so poorly after the end of Communism. SVO, VKO and DME all got privatized and fixed up with railway links and modern new terminal buildings. BKA dwindled down to nothing and eventually was closed and mostly demolished.
 
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:13 am

dcajet wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
There was a pattern, and it had to do with the general direction/destinations of flights.

Indeed, SVO housed an international operation, and also flights up north, AFAIR (Leningrad, Murmansk, that sort of thing)

DME was all about Central Asia (Almaty, Tashkent, Ashghabat) and Far East (Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, etc.)

Bykovo indeed was a regional airport, with short-range airplanes operating.

VKO was a predominantly "southern" airport, with flights in the general direction of Black Sea.

I might be somewhat mistaken, but with exception of Bykovo, the concept was clearly -- division by destinations.


Where planes & crews based at one airport or there was some cross-utilization between MOW airports?


ugh, that is one massively complicated question. Don't quote me on the explanation, as there are plenty of nuance I simply wouldn't know, being too young to experience it all. But we'll try. You see, the way "Soviet Aeroflot" operated was that each of these airports, and airplanes and crews based there, was a company, with a typical name being "(insert geographic point, or area name) Unified Aviation Enterprise".. So, if a crew was based in VKO and flew its Il-86 to Sochi, for example, it would be most unusual to see them operating a flight from SVO, for example. Maybe, in case of crew shortage, companies could make an urgent arrangement, and employees of VKO could travel to SVO to fly, but AFAIK it would be a story to discuss in crew rooms afterwards.
The overarching principle was that crews of air company X fly the metal of company X, as far as I understand.

On the other hand, a lot of flying in USSR was multi-stop "milk runs". I didn't dig through those timetables, but we can simulate. Imagine a Tu-154 crew, based in Frunze (Bishkek today) flying to Moscow. There is a possibility they were assigned to a route, where the last hop would be for example from Pyatigorsk -- and that means their destination would be VKO. On the other hand, if the route took them through Kazan -- then apparently they would end up in DME.

And, of course, the internationally flying folk in SVO were barely ever expected to fly domestic. They were too good for that. Or at least they thought of themselves this way.
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:41 am

jsnww81 wrote:
Interesting that Bykovo fared so poorly after the end of Communism. SVO, VKO and DME all got privatized and fixed up with railway links and modern new terminal buildings. BKA dwindled down to nothing and eventually was closed and mostly demolished.


Well, it's actually a bit more complicated than that. Indeed, Bykovo closed, but not because it was singled out -- the list of possible benefactors was depleted by other Moscow airports.

In 1990's, all Moscow airports were in relatively poor shape, with SVO doing much better than the rest.
SVO's fortunes came from a steady stream of hard currency from serving international airlines and international flights (who had basically nowhere else to go), international cargo facility, and housing (relatively) cash-rich "new Aeroflot".
A German-built 1978 international terminal (SVO-2) was still relatively fresh, and anyway decades ahead of others.

Other airports were losing momentum, passengers and money.
SVO management got greedy and arrogant, and that opened them up to potential competition.

Cargo operator East Line took out a long-term lease of DME (ugh, what a dump it was then) and invested heavily to remodel and reorganize it. East Line was a private, no-nonsense operator, and ran a fairly tight ship. Suddenly, international airlines started flocking to DME, tired of poor service, high costs and endemic corruption at SVO. Rail line helped, too.
A duopoly was in the making.

Now, then-mayor of Moscow, Luzhkov, started to get jealous of DME's success (East Line literally begged him to join them, when they needed the money to upgrade DME, but he refused. Now he was having second thoughts). His years-long ambition of trying to annex SVO to Moscow was going nowhere, so he took the third best airport, VKO (ugh, by that time, a dump even more horrible than pre-remodeling DME), and sank a lot of Moscow city money into the terminal, rail line into it, etc.

Suddenly, SVO was seriously behind both DME and VKO. Aeroflot was bidding for SkyTeam membership -- and SkyTeam flat out rejected to proceed until Aeroflot could explain how will they handle SkyTeam connections in SVO (connections in SVO, especially international-to-international, were stuff of legends by that time -- by how strangely bad they were). Aeroflot proposed to have its dedicated terminal built, and SkyTeam agreed on this being a sensible solution. So, money was found and new terminals sprang up in SVO.

As you've noticed, Bykovo is nowhere on this list. So, in this race of greed (East Line) and ego (Aeroflot, Luzhkov) not more than three airports were required.

Eventually, there emerged enough interest for a fourth airport, but it was apparently too late for saving Bykovo. Nearby Zhukovsky airfield took over.
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:09 am

IADDCABWI wrote:
The arrangement was "logical" from the viewpoint of the centralized management system, which existed then, but utterly idiotic from the viewpoint of customers (the approach very common for that system). It was based on the sectors of destinations from Moscow.

SVO served, in addition to international destinations globally, North (Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Syktyvkar, etc.), North-West (LED, Estonia, Latvia, Litva) and West (Belorussia).
VKO served Southwest and South (Ukraine, all relatively long routes to all parts of Russia south of Moscow, and parts of Caucasus republics (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan).
DME served Southeast of Russia (Volgograd, for example), the whole East and Northeast of Russia (Urals, Siberia, Far East) and Central Asian republics (Turkmenia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizia, Kazakhstan).
Bykovo served local areas around Moscow.

That means that the vast majority of transit passengers had to move from one airport to another, typically using special buses using the Moscow beltway.

The vast majority of the routes to/from Moscow were served by the crews located outside of Moscow, in the respective republics or Russian cities. I am aware of the base at DME that served Far East. Obviously, all international routes were served by Moscow-based crews. I do not know if there were any others; maybe. But the vast majority of crews, both cockpit and cabin, came from places like Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Almaty, Tashkent, etc. and left there on the same or the following day. That answers the question about the cross-utilization. That was kind of convenient for management: say, all Uzbek flights were served from DME, and dispatch for them was needed only there. The only splitting (or maybe it was seasonal changes) occurred for Georgia (VKO and DME), and, possibly, for Armenia and Azerbajan (not sure).

Such arrangement, naturally, resulted in fairly different fleets in the airports, which was a question here some time ago. Bykovo with its short local destinations had An-24, Yak-40, Yak-42. DME had aircraft for long-haul flights (initially Tu-114 and then IL-62 for the Far East, IL-62 for the Central Asia, many Tu-154 (IL-18 in the past) and some Tu-134; there were very few Tu-104 in the past, and Tu-144 for Almaty also flew from there, for a short period of time). VKO had what was needed for medium-range flights: mostly Tu-154 and Tu-134 (Tu-104 and IL-18 in the past); it also hosted (and probably still hosts) Government fleet, including IL-62 and IL-96. SVO, in its domestic part, had what was needed for relatively short flights (Tu-134, Tu-124, Tu-104 in the past).


Excellent description, thank you!
Couple of points of order -- in Soviet times, no Il-96 operations; it started flying commercially in 1992.
And yes, VKO did base plenty of Il-86 for flying passengers to "sunshine places" in Black Sea area.

A good observation on government/VVIP operation in VKO (called Vnukovo-2) -- probably one of the reasons VKO survived 90's; for ordinary passenger operations there were collapsing.
And yes, making connections via Moscow was a really crazy thing in those times. If you needed to connect, it almost certainly meant that you need to change airports. Taxi drivers loved that. Passengers -- not so much.
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:55 am

Yes, I entirely forgot IL-86. Domestically, it flew since the early 1980s from VKO primarily to the major resort cities: AER, MVR, SIP. From DME, it flew to SVX, OVB, later KJA (maybe to a few other Russian cities), as well as to ALA, TAS, AKX, PLX (having replaced IL-62 on those Central Asian routes). The limited range did not allow it to make it to Far East nonstop, for which it was originally designed. IL-96 indeed came into play only in the 1990s. IIRC, it flew domestically to Far East from DME, as well as internationally from SVO (to HAV, for example, until quite recently). Still carries Putin from VKO-2.

International flights were performed by a special division of SU; so, it is highly unlikely that its pilots were used on domestic flights, except of international flight legs, like SVO-LED. As I said before, the crews visiting Moscow were largely regional; so, their varying routes were within the realm of the respective regional SU divisions. For example, a Kazakhstan crew flew ALA-TSE-DME, but returned as DME-PPK-ALA. I cannot imagine a Kirgiz crew flying from Moscow to Pyatigorsk (MVR, that is).
 
ikarlson
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 10:30 am

Things haven't changed much since 1991, SVO still dominates Moscow
 
dcajet
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:49 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
dcajet wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
There was a pattern, and it had to do with the general direction/destinations of flights.

Indeed, SVO housed an international operation, and also flights up north, AFAIR (Leningrad, Murmansk, that sort of thing)

DME was all about Central Asia (Almaty, Tashkent, Ashghabat) and Far East (Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, etc.)

Bykovo indeed was a regional airport, with short-range airplanes operating.

VKO was a predominantly "southern" airport, with flights in the general direction of Black Sea.

I might be somewhat mistaken, but with exception of Bykovo, the concept was clearly -- division by destinations.


Where planes & crews based at one airport or there was some cross-utilization between MOW airports?


ugh, that is one massively complicated question. Don't quote me on the explanation, as there are plenty of nuance I simply wouldn't know, being too young to experience it all. But we'll try. You see, the way "Soviet Aeroflot" operated was that each of these airports, and airplanes and crews based there, was a company, with a typical name being "(insert geographic point, or area name) Unified Aviation Enterprise".. So, if a crew was based in VKO and flew its Il-86 to Sochi, for example, it would be most unusual to see them operating a flight from SVO, for example. Maybe, in case of crew shortage, companies could make an urgent arrangement, and employees of VKO could travel to SVO to fly, but AFAIK it would be a story to discuss in crew rooms afterwards.
The overarching principle was that crews of air company X fly the metal of company X, as far as I understand.

On the other hand, a lot of flying in USSR was multi-stop "milk runs". I didn't dig through those timetables, but we can simulate. Imagine a Tu-154 crew, based in Frunze (Bishkek today) flying to Moscow. There is a possibility they were assigned to a route, where the last hop would be for example from Pyatigorsk -- and that means their destination would be VKO. On the other hand, if the route took them through Kazan -- then apparently they would end up in DME.

And, of course, the internationally flying folk in SVO were barely ever expected to fly domestic. They were too good for that. Or at least they thought of themselves this way.


Thank you for the very detailed explanation.

Now that you mention SU's international crews, I remember them in very late 80s when they used to stay at the hotel I worked at while in college. I am sure that being an international SU F/A back in the Soviet Union was very glamorous (and most likely a position that had to be vetted by the KGB), but compared to other airlines from western countries, they did not seem very glamorous to us. They would very seldom crack a smile. They always arrived chaperoned by a shady character, Mikhail, that supposedly worked at the Soviet Embassy and I reckon was their minder for fear they would do something deemed not patriotic... He picked them up too. One day SU cancelled the contract as they had leased a big house near the airport (EZE) where the crews would be housed during their layover, "for their optimal well being" read the cancellation letter to the local Sheraton.
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workhorse
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:09 pm

Regarding BKA:

A little offtopic, but there is an excellent crime novel by famous Russian author Yulia Latynina that tells the story of a decrepit airport near Moscow used by corrupt officials, military and bandits for... [spoiler censored].

It is said that the airport (called "Rykovo" in the novel) was inspired by Bykovo (I mean the airport itself, not sure about the crime plot!).

The book is available online in Russian: http://profilib.net/chtenie/1948/yuliya ... oletov.php (alert for busy people! if you read Russian and click on this link, your next few hours will be lost for humanity! :) )

Apparently, there is an English translation named "Debriefing (Not a Day Without Work)", but I was not able to find it anywhere.
 
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:28 pm

Was not there a sort of preferential treatment for flights from/to other countries of the soviet block?

I remember airlines such as LOT, Balkan, Malev et al. having multiple daily flights to Moscow, while having one of maximum two to Western European cities.
 
FCOTSTW
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:28 pm

Was not there a sort of preferential treatment for flights from/to other countries of the soviet block?

I remember airlines such as LOT, Balkan, Malev et al. having multiple daily flights to Moscow, while having one of maximum two to Western European cities.
 
workhorse
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:50 pm

FCOTSTW wrote:
Was not there a sort of preferential treatment for flights from/to other countries of the soviet block?

I remember airlines such as LOT, Balkan, Malev et al. having multiple daily flights to Moscow, while having one of maximum two to Western European cities.


No, I think it was just because the ties between Western Europe and USSR were minimal. For most USSR citizens, it was already hard enough to get a permission (it was called "exit visa") to go to another Soviet Block country, and much harder to go to Western Europe. There probably was barely enough people to fill one flight a day.
 
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:55 pm

IADDCABWI wrote:
I cannot imagine a Kirgiz crew flying from Moscow to Pyatigorsk (MVR, that is).

After having been flown from Kiev to Vilnius (or was it Grodno that time? I was too young, so different flights could have gotten mixed up in my memory, as we flew both to Grodno and to Vilnius in those years) by a crew from Georgia on a multi-stop journey, I can imagine many things.
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:59 pm

workhorse wrote:
FCOTSTW wrote:
Was not there a sort of preferential treatment for flights from/to other countries of the soviet block?

I remember airlines such as LOT, Balkan, Malev et al. having multiple daily flights to Moscow, while having one of maximum two to Western European cities.


No, I think it was just because the ties between Western Europe and USSR were minimal. For most USSR citizens, it was already hard enough to get a permission (it was called "exit visa") to go to another Soviet Block country, and much harder to go to Western Europe. There probably was barely enough people to fill one flight a day.


True that. Difficulty in obtaining exit visas, additional difficulties in acquiring (preferably legally, as in USSR, illegal currency transactions were a crime, with capital punishment available at the top of the scale) hard currency, general suspicion to anyone who was beyond the Iron Curtain -- and suddenly the traffic between Cold War adversary block countries is down to the bare minimum.
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workhorse
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:19 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
True that. Difficulty in obtaining exit visas, additional difficulties in acquiring (preferably legally, as in USSR, illegal currency transactions were a crime, with capital punishment available at the top of the scale) hard currency, general suspicion to anyone who was beyond the Iron Curtain -- and suddenly the traffic between Cold War adversary block countries is down to the bare minimum.


Well, I don't think anyone ever got executed just for underground currency trading (at least in post-Stalin times), but obtaining foreign currency was a pain in the ass, that's for sure (and there was another extreme in the beginning of the 90's when everything was in dollars, there were actually some restaurants and night clubs that REFUSED rubles and plenty of places that paid salaries in USD.

Russia is an amazing place! :)
 
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:33 am

Phosphorus wrote:
As you've noticed, Bykovo is nowhere on this list. So, in this race of greed (East Line) and ego (Aeroflot, Luzhkov) not more than three airports were required.

Eventually, there emerged enough interest for a fourth airport, but it was apparently too late for saving Bykovo. Nearby Zhukovsky airfield took over.


Thank you for the detailed history. As a kid growing up in 1980s USA, it was very difficult to find any information about Soviet airports. Every airline book I owned mentioned Aeroflot - it was, after all, the "world's largest airline" in those days - but airports were another story. I remember finally seeing a photo of the then-fairly-new Sheremetyevo-2 terminal building in a travel magazine and thinking it looked modern, but a bit dark and sinister. Then again, to little American kids in the 1980s, everything having to do with the USSR seemed a little bit dark and sinister. :) The propaganda was definitely strong in those days!

My National Geographic world atlas showed Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Bykovo as the city's other airports but there was literally NO information on them to be found at my city's library or anywhere else, so I was always fascinated. Even now I'd love to see some vintage photos from the 1970s and 1980s - tough to find!

I definitely remember when DME was renovated by East Line and suddenly it seemed like airlines couldn't move flights there fast enough. I remember reading that British Airways was moving there from SVO and thinking they must have fixed it pretty nicely for that to be happening.
 
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Tue Aug 28, 2018 7:53 am

jsnww81 wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
As you've noticed, Bykovo is nowhere on this list. So, in this race of greed (East Line) and ego (Aeroflot, Luzhkov) not more than three airports were required.

Eventually, there emerged enough interest for a fourth airport, but it was apparently too late for saving Bykovo. Nearby Zhukovsky airfield took over.



I definitely remember when DME was renovated by East Line and suddenly it seemed like airlines couldn't move flights there fast enough. I remember reading that British Airways was moving there from SVO and thinking they must have fixed it pretty nicely for that to be happening.


British Airways would move anywhere in that tiem, because SVO2 was a dump, difficult to get there, and terminal that was built for 1980 Olympic games was falling apart, so Lufthansa and BA moved as fast as possible just to get away from Sheremetyevo. As soon as they moved, Aeroflot decided build new terminals and join Sky team.
 
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Tue Aug 28, 2018 9:08 am

workhorse wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
True that. Difficulty in obtaining exit visas, additional difficulties in acquiring (preferably legally, as in USSR, illegal currency transactions were a crime, with capital punishment available at the top of the scale) hard currency, general suspicion to anyone who was beyond the Iron Curtain -- and suddenly the traffic between Cold War adversary block countries is down to the bare minimum.


Well, I don't think anyone ever got executed just for underground currency trading (at least in post-Stalin times), but obtaining foreign currency was a pain in the ass, that's for sure (and there was another extreme in the beginning of the 90's when everything was in dollars, there were actually some restaurants and night clubs that REFUSED rubles and plenty of places that paid salaries in USD.

Russia is an amazing place! :)


Well, think again:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rokotov%E ... henko_case

It might be news for you (but I think the enclosed Wikipedia link might contain some of that information) that actually, the laws were re-written, in post-Stalin times, to include capital punishment, retroactively, for currency transactions.

So yes, getting your hands on hard currency was a pain, and getting caught in the process was a very bad idea.
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workhorse
Posts: 655
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:13 am

Well, I didn't know. Wow, this is crazy stuff...

So yeah, with this kind things happening no wonder there were few flights between Western Europe and the USSR.

On the other hand, other countries of the Soviet Block (especially Poland) had a little bit more tolerance for this kind of "small business" and also Poles could get out of their country much easier than the Soviet citizens. I don't have the timetables of that era, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see more flights to the West out WAW than out of SVO.
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:32 pm

IADDCABWI wrote:
Yes, I entirely forgot IL-86. ... The limited range did not allow it to make it to Far East nonstop, for which it was originally designed..


Sorry, another point of order, but the design story of Il-86 is somewhat crazier than that.
Again, it takes a bit more to research this topic, but MGA (ministry of civil aviation = Soviet Aeroflot) initially demanded a short-range people hauler from MOW area to tourist spots, as you have listed (AER, MRV...). Demands included built-in air-stairs, to be able to operate to airports with limited ground infrastructure, unable to cope with massive seasonal tides and ebbs of passenger flow. Same story for passengers hauling their luggage onboard -- it allowed to save on ground equipment and personnel (and those costs, too, were MGA/Aeroflot responsibility).

The Aeroflot focus was the ability to operate to such under-equipped airports, and operating costs. When MAP (ministry of aviation industry) started to mention their ability to make the plane with a longer range, MGA protested and insisted on no need for longer range (astute historians will recognize a similar folly, dooming Dassault Mercure, but I digress). Anyway, it looks like Ilyushin/MAP people basically smuggled into specs the somewhat higher range, way above MGA's requirement.

So, if Aeroflot ever complained of Il-86 having too short a range (and I've heard they did), it's a double hypocrisy -- they were the ones to insist on shorter range; and when the manufacturer unilaterally increased the maximum range, Aeroflot turns around and bashes the plane for being too short-ranged.

Later, when the advantages of widebodies on longer-range missions were understood by Aeroflot, they asked for a long-range widebody.
There were two possible answers -- 1) dramatic redesign of Il-86 (dramatic, because at Aeroflot's insistence, it was overoptimized for its mission. Longer range was not possible without raising the landing gear; redesigning the wing, etc.) -- what eventually became known as Il-96; or 2) buy imported. Option 2 was looked at, as despite best efforts, Il-86 was over-ordered and underproduced (10-12 per year, under best circumstances). As I understand, prime candidate for purchase was L-1011, but, as we all know, it was never to be.
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Phosphorus
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:43 pm

workhorse wrote:
Well, I didn't know. Wow, this is crazy stuff...

So yeah, with this kind things happening no wonder there were few flights between Western Europe and the USSR.

On the other hand, other countries of the Soviet Block (especially Poland) had a little bit more tolerance for this kind of "small business" and also Poles could get out of their country much easier than the Soviet citizens. I don't have the timetables of that era, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see more flights to the West out WAW than out of SVO.


Yes, Poles had a bit more wiggle room in their international travel possibilities, and private trading. I gather, the military running the country (Jaruzelski & Co) figured that if they silence the political dissent with guns, they have to let the pressure vent elsewhere.
As a result, in a hushed voice, Soviet citizens discussed between themselves, enviously, the legendary "Polish 10-year passport" (i.e. a passport in a permanent possession of its owner, with no need to surrender it to authorities after each trip, and to apply again for an exit visa in Poland) that lets them travel freely. Others, vindictively, theorized that as the result, all Poles were viewed as potential smugglers, and subject to exceptionally tough customs searches.

Whether that really meant a boom in WAW? Have to research historical timetables a bit more.
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jsnww81
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Wed Aug 29, 2018 12:15 am

Phosphorus wrote:
IADDCABWI wrote:
Yes, I entirely forgot IL-86. ... The limited range did not allow it to make it to Far East nonstop, for which it was originally designed..


Sorry, another point of order, but the design story of Il-86 is somewhat crazier than that.
Again, it takes a bit more to research this topic, but MGA (ministry of civil aviation = Soviet Aeroflot) initially demanded a short-range people hauler from MOW area to tourist spots, as you have listed (AER, MRV...). Demands included built-in air-stairs, to be able to operate to airports with limited ground infrastructure, unable to cope with massive seasonal tides and ebbs of passenger flow. Same story for passengers hauling their luggage onboard -- it allowed to save on ground equipment and personnel (and those costs, too, were MGA/Aeroflot responsibility).


Another interesting story. Per my 1993 timetable, the bulk of the IL-86 fleet was based at Vnukovo, and was mostly flying south to the Black Sea resorts, as you noted in an earlier post. There were also a few IL-86 flights west from DME, to places like Novosibirsk. I'd love to get my hands on a pre-1991 Aeroflot domestic timetable. Were domestic timetables published, or was the scale of operations too massive?

I appreciate all these historical stories!
 
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IADDCABWI
Posts: 6
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Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:35 am

>I'd love to get my hands on a pre-1991 Aeroflot domestic timetable. Were domestic timetables published, or was the scale of operations too massive?

Can you read Russian or, at least, Cyrillics? If so, you may find this useful. Just flip through over 100 pages:
https://aviaforum.ru/threads/starye-ras ... ntam.5250/

>Was not there a sort of preferential treatment for flights from/to other countries of the soviet block? I remember airlines such as LOT, Balkan, Malev et al. having multiple daily flights to Moscow, while having one of maximum two to Western European cities.

First off, it would not be unreasonable to expect preferential treatment of allies. As pointed out above, there was no need for more flights from Western Europe, for obvious reasons. However, SU and USSR in general were trying to get the most in the business playground. There were other means to press. For example, Western airlines were persistently denied overnight stay at SVO, which would allow them to depart early to bring Moscow passengers to the morning departure banks in their European hubs. On the trans-Siberian route, a requirement for a stop at SVO was in place for quite some time after that became technically unnecessary. There were also price wars. Even though the SU service level was below the Western standards (although not as bad as it is believed by some), many passengers, as it is today, thought primarily in terms of the price. So, transit through SVO was substantial. Not at the level of AMS. of course :)

>Per my 1993 timetable, the bulk of the IL-86 fleet was based at Vnukovo, and was mostly flying south to the Black Sea resorts, as you noted in an earlier post. There were also a few IL-86 flights west from DME, to places like Novosibirsk.

Yes, the primary use of IL-86 was to the southern resorts, and those destinations were served from VKO. Flights from DME came a bit later, but not much later. OVB was the first. Then came TAS, ALA, PLX, and AKX in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, where IL-86 replaced IL-62. Interestingly, the replacement was speeded up by the fact that IL-62s on those relatively short routes were approaching their limit in landings, although they still had quite of bit of resources in flight hours. There was an attempt to swap them with IL-62s on the Far-Eastern destinations, where that was less of a problem, but the owners of the latter did not agree. So, the planes were just taken out of service and replaced with IL-86s. Later on, IL-86 started to fly from DME to SVX, KJA, and, IIRC, NSK. They also flew extensively from SVO to Europe, from SXF to CDG and LHR, both the Americas and Asia, with fuel stops.

>Whether that really meant a boom in WAW?
Not really, but LO and OK were sometimes used by SU to move Russian passengers at the times of tense relations with the US.

>Even now I'd love to see some vintage photos from the 1970s and 1980s - tough to find!
I have quite a few and can send them to you by e-mail. It is not practical to post them here.

>After having been flown from Kiev to Vilnius (or was it Grodno that time? I was too young, so different flights could have gotten mixed up in my memory, as we flew both to Grodno and to Vilnius in those years) by a crew from Georgia on a multi-stop journey, I can imagine many things.

That was, most likely, a TBS-KPB-VNO flight by the Georgian branch of SU. There were many such flights by regional branches of SU, but, to the best of my knowledge, none of them used a MOW airport as a stop.
 
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IADDCABWI
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:29 pm

Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Wed Aug 29, 2018 3:24 am

>I'd love to get my hands on a pre-1991 Aeroflot domestic timetable. Were domestic timetables published, or was the scale of operations too massive?

Can you read Russian or, at least, Cyrillics? If so, you may find this useful. Just flip through over 100 pages:
https://aviaforum.ru/threads/starye-ras ... ntam.5250/

>Was not there a sort of preferential treatment for flights from/to other countries of the soviet block? I remember airlines such as LOT, Balkan, Malev et al. having multiple daily flights to Moscow, while having one of maximum two to Western European cities.

First off, it would not be unreasonable to expect preferential treatment of allies. As pointed out above, there was no need for more flights from Western Europe, for obvious reasons. However, SU and USSR in general were trying to get the most in the business playground. There were other means to press. For example, Western airlines were persistently denied overnight stay at SVO, which would allow them to depart early to bring Moscow passengers to the morning departure banks in their European hubs. On the trans-Siberian route, a requirement for a stop at SVO was in place for quite some time after that became technically unnecessary. There were also price wars. Even though the SU service level was below the Western standards (although not as bad as it is believed by some), many passengers, as it is today, thought primarily in terms of the price. So, transit through SVO was substantial. Not at the level of AMS. of course :)

>Per my 1993 timetable, the bulk of the IL-86 fleet was based at Vnukovo, and was mostly flying south to the Black Sea resorts, as you noted in an earlier post. There were also a few IL-86 flights west from DME, to places like Novosibirsk.

Yes, the primary use of IL-86 was to the southern resorts, and those destinations were served from VKO. Flights from DME came a bit later, but not much later. OVB was the first. Then came TAS, ALA, PLX, and AKX in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, where IL-86 replaced IL-62. Interestingly, the replacement was speeded up by the fact that IL-62s on those relatively short routes were approaching their limit in landings, although they still had quite of bit of resources in flight hours. There was an attempt to swap them with IL-62s on the Far-Eastern destinations, where that was less of a problem, but the owners of the latter did not agree. So, the planes were just taken out of service and replaced with IL-86s. Later on, IL-86 started to fly from DME to SVX, KJA, and, IIRC, NSK. They also flew extensively from SVO to Europe, from SXF to CDG and LHR, both the Americas and Asia, with fuel stops.

>Whether that really meant a boom in WAW?
Not really, but LO and OK were sometimes used by SU to move Russian passengers at the times of tense relations with the US.

>Even now I'd love to see some vintage photos from the 1970s and 1980s - tough to find!
I have quite a few and can send them to you by e-mail. It is not practical to post them here.

>After having been flown from Kiev to Vilnius (or was it Grodno that time? I was too young, so different flights could have gotten mixed up in my memory, as we flew both to Grodno and to Vilnius in those years) by a crew from Georgia on a multi-stop journey, I can imagine many things.

That was, most likely, a TBS-KPB-VNO flight by the Georgian branch of SU. There were many such flights by regional branches of SU, but, to the best of my knowledge, none of them used a MOW airport as a stop.

IADDCABWI
 
SurlyBonds
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:24 am

Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:23 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
A good observation on government/VVIP operation in VKO (called Vnukovo-2) -- probably one of the reasons VKO survived 90's; for ordinary passenger operations there were collapsing.


I have flown out of Vnukovo-2 twice - it was indeed very convenient.

It is unfortunate LH stopped service to (garden-variety) VKO.
 
SurlyBonds
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:24 am

Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:28 pm

ikarlson wrote:
Lufthansa and BA moved as fast as possible just to get away from Sheremetyevo. As soon as they moved, Aeroflot decided build new terminals and join Sky team.


LH moved comparatively late. As of mid-2006 they were still flying into SVO-2, due to the bilateral aviation treaty between Russia and Germany. BA and LX were flying into DME for a long time by then.
 
konrad
Posts: 570
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2002 3:54 am

Re: Moscow airports pre-1991?

Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:28 am

LOT is still at SVO due to the c/s it has on SU flights. Strangly, the flight which stays overnight goes to/from DME,

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