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Saturday, June 4, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seattle-To-Moscow Flights Start Today

The first scheduled direct flights between Seattle and Moscow will begin today with the inauguration of service by Aeroflot Russian International Airlines using its new Ilyushin IL-96 four-engine, widebody jetliners.

The twice-a-week flights will begin and end in Los Angeles, with a stop in Seattle in each direction.

The first flight will arrive in Seattle at 11:30 a.m today. Ironically, because of the international date line, that arrival time in Seattle will be five minutes earlier than its 11:35 a.m. Saturday departure from Moscow.

The first return trip to Moscow is scheduled to leave Seattle at 9:10 p.m. tonight and arrive in Moscow at 6:50 p.m. Sunday.

Aeroflot's schedule calls for the same arrival and departure times in Seattle every Thursday.

"At 5,203 miles, this is the longest nonstop leg from Seattle to Europe," said Gennadi Tavlintsev, Aeroflot regional director for the Pacific Northwest.

Some recent reports have focused on safety problems involving Aeroflot flights within Russia. But Terry Finn, a spokesman for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said the Seattle-Moscow route will be serviced with fly-by-wire aircraft that have been in scheduled service since mid-1993.

The Ilyushin IL-96 has been flying between Russia and Anchorage since April, "and they have had no problems," Finn said.

Finn said San Francisco and Seattle are the only West Coast airports with direct service to Moscow.

"This area has become one of the main sources of business" for Russia, Finn said. He said Russia is one of the fastest growing trading partners for the Port of Seattle, with shipping volume up more than 400 percent and dollar volume up more than 1,000 percent since 1989.

The IL-96 offers three classes of seating: first class for 22 passengers, business class for 40 and an economy class cabin that seats 173.

Aeroflot sold 105 seats on today's flight from Moscow, with 35 passengers bound for Seattle and 65 for Los Angeles. Cargo is expected to be a major revenue component.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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