Miami-Moscow flights could take off by summer
By Suzy Valentine
Direct flights between Moscow and Miami could begin in May or June.
Domodedovo Airlines, Russia's third-largest air carrier, got US Department of Transportation approval Jan. 19 - at least a month later than planned - but could still launch in late spring.
"The Russian government divvied up routes some time ago," said Chris Mangos, Miami-Dade Aviation Department marketing manager, "but the airline was awaiting reciprocity from the US government."
Officials at Miami International Airport, he said, have stayed in contact with staff at the airline. "We communicate with them every two weeks or so," Mr. Mangos said. "An announcement will be made as their plans solidify."
A Russian businesswoman in Miami Beach welcomed the news. "The last time I traveled to Moscow, I had a layover in Germany," said artist Irina Patterson, "so the whole trip took about 24 hours. Lots of businesspeople will use the service. It will bring Muscovites here and serve the large Russian communities of Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach."
In the 1990s, Aeroflot operated flights between Miami and Moscow, a route that gained support in another part of Europe. "What kept the Aeroflot route afloat was the Shannon stop," said Mr. Mangos, "where Irish tourists boarded."
This time, he anticipates more Russian patronage.
"We're in a different period now," he said. "In the early 1990s, modern Russia was just evolving, and the population's financial capability has grown since then. There is also the growing Russian demographic across the state."
Shortly after Domodedovo's proposed launch, Miami International is to add some seasonal routes.
Brazilian carrier TAM is to offer additional flights in July during what Mr. Mangos described as "the peak period for Brazilians traveling to MIA."
A representative of the Brazilian Consulate in Miami said the additional routes would also appeal to Brazilians living here.
"Lots of Brazilians fly home during the summer," said Deputy Consul General Luiz Felipe Mendonca. "Our school year begins in March and runs through December. July is a school holiday."
Services from Miami will fly to Fortaleza on July 14, Natal on July 20 and Recife on July 21, 28 and 29. Flights are to arrive in Miami from Fortaleza on July 1, Natal on July 8 and Recife on July 7, 14 and 15.
The airline's operations to these cities could expand.
"TAM is considering service on a regular basis," said Mr. Mangos, "from these new cities in Brazil."
Aviation officials are also waiting to hear from South African Airways about non-stop services to Cape Town and Johannesburg.
"We are waiting for an announcement from the airline," Mr. Mangos said. "This was to happen in January but there has been no word yet."
Miami International has a distinct advantage over rivals vying for the business.
"Miami is the only airport that can sustain a nonstop service on the airline's existing fleet," Mr. Mangos said. "It is the only point in the US that can be reached in under 14 hours."