Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has told passengers to read a book or try some meditation after pulling its inflight movie and television streaming services due to Western sanctions.
Taking to its Telegram social media page, the airline suggested that rather than watching inflight entertainment, passengers could instead take “take stock of the year” and perhaps make a wish list or write plans for the new year ahead.
The latest sanctions have hit inflight entertainment services on Aeroflot’s narrowbody fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft and some Boeing 737s, where content is streamed to the passenger’s personal mobile device.
Aeroflot promised, however, that the “refusal of foreign suppliers to provide this service” would only temporarily take streaming entertainment off the air and that the airline was already working on a domestic solution to get around sanctions.
Since Russia was slapped with an array of sanctions by the United States, Europe and elsewhere in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, the country has thought of inventive ways to maintain the Western brands that Russians have become accustomed to.
Shuttered Starbucks coffee shops were soon rebranded and reopened as Stars Coffe shops, and McDonald’s has been reinvented as ‘Vkusno i Tochka’ with its own stylised M logo.
Aeroflot has defied the odds to keep flying after sanctions prevented aircraft manufacturers and suppliers from importing spare parts into Russia. The chief executive of Airbus warned in October that the industry was “worried” about the maintenance of planes in Russia, especially after domestic travel demand took off.
“Because of the sanctions, we cannot really monitor and support as we do with our customers in normal times. And that’s something that is indeed creating some concerns on the safety side,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury warned.
Aeroflot is reported to have circumvented the sanctions so far by stripping spare parts from grounded planes, while the Russian government has ordered five local companies to produce spare parts for Western-made commercial airliners.
Despite a tranche of international airspace restrictions, the Russian flag carrier continues to fly internationally and has been operating regular flights to popular destinations amongst Russia’s elite, including Dubai, Antalya, Sharm El Sheikh, Bangkok and the Maldives.
The British government and the European Union, however, consider Aeroflot a serious safety risk and have barred Aeroflot from operating in their respective airspace over “unsafe practices” by the airline.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.