Aeroflot a dogfight for International Passengers

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Aeroflot - A Dogfight for International Passengers

In stark contrast to British Airways, Aeroflot-Russian Airlines is new to the skies of international commercial airlines. Aeroflot's 114 planes transported 3.8 million passengers in 1996 compared to British Airlines' 25.35 million passengers. Aeroflot's figures are down considerably from 1991, the year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when its 5,400 planes carried 138 million passengers. Since 1991 the airline has had trouble adjusting from a monopoly to a competitive marketplace as the rival private Russian airline, Transaero, built passenger loyalty by stressing good service and on-time flights.

Aeroflot's attempt to become a world class airline has been hampered by a poor safety record, bad food, surly service, dilapidated cabins and frequently cancelled or late flights. At less than 60%, Aeroflot's load factor (the percentage of seats on each flight occupied by paying customers), is the lowest in the international airline industry.

In order to expand its business in this highly competitive industry Aeroflot has copied many of the strategies the leading airlines. In January 1997, the airline announced a marketing alliance with Continental Airlines to allow Continental flights from Newark, NJ to Moscow's Sheremetyeva International Airport. Aeroflot has renovated its training academy to include a curriculum that focuses on image and marketing, and includes the slogan, "the customer is always right." The airline launched Telephone Confidential, a customer complaint line, and in an effort to modernise its fleet ordered 10 Boeing 737s.

Marketing has been a big part of Aeroflot's fight to gain back passengers. The image the airline has selected for itself in its first multimedia advertising campaign attempts to convince sceptical consumers that the airline has solved its safety and service problems. The campaign uses magazine, billboard and TV commercials, and features a flying elephant with a slogan that translates into "light on its feet." The not so subtle message means that if elephants can fly, so can Aeroflot.

Aeroflot's web page (, exhibits a decidedly western influence. The home page has links to pages that describe its airplane fleet, a graphic presentation and description of Moscow's Sheremetyeva airport, flight schedule, news, information, cargo, routeway, charter, and travel office. Judging from the neat, professional appearance of the Web page, Aeroflot's competitors need to be prepared for a dogfight to keep this airline from cutting into their business.

1. What are the advertising objectives for Aeroflot's Flying Elephant campaign?

2. Design a multimedia advertising campaign to position Aeroflot head-to-head with British Airways.

Sources:; Alessandra Stanley, "Hod the Jokes, Please: Aeroflot Buffs Its Image," The New York Times, June 29, 1997, p. F1; Al Frank, "Continental Signs with Aeroflot for Daily Moscow Flights," Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, January 15, 1997; "On a Wing and a Prayer: Aviation in Russia," The Economist, October 5, 1996, p. 103; Victoria Pope, "The Gray Chicken is Definitely Out, Aeroflot Tries to Learn Service with a Smile," U. S. News and World Report, October 28, 1996, p. 45.

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