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85 Killed on Aeroflot Last Year, Soviets Say

February 8, 1989

MOSCOW (AP) _ Crashes of Aeroflot planes killed 85 people in 1988, far more than the previous year, the chief pilot for the state-run airline said today.

The pilot, Mikhail M. Tereshenko, announced the statistic at a news conference to mark the 66th anniversary of the huge airline.

He said the fatalities occurred in 16 crashes and that the death toll did not include people killed in hijackings in 1988.

In March, a family of 11 Siberian jazz musicians commandeered an Aerflot plane flying from Siberia to Leningrad. They killed a flight attendent and three passengers, and four hijackers committed suicide after killing their mother, the Soviet press has reported.

In 1987, Tereshenko said, 18 people died in 13 crashes.

At a news conference in February 1988, Vladimir Y. Potemkin, deputy chief of flight services, said 47 Aeroflot passengers and crew members were killed in accidents in 1987. It was not immediately clear why the figures are different.

Aeroflot began releasing details of its safety record only last year, another example of Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s campaign for glasnost, or more openness on some issues.

The campaign has also brought a flurry of reports and letters in the official Soviet press complaining about Aeroflot.

Boris E. Panyukov, first deputy civil aviation minister, said at today’s news conference there were 13 million ″unsatisfied people″ among Aeroflot’s 124 million passengers in 1988. He did not give a detailed breakdown.

Aeroflot, which has a monopoly on domestic flights, is notorious for delays and poor service.

A Soviet newspaper reported last week that 120 angry Aeroflot passengers refused to leave a plane for hours after they were told to disembark before their destination.

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