A union of Russian pilots at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on Tuesday accused the country's flagship carrier Aeroflot of endangering passengers' lives by overworking staff in search for profit.
The Sheremetyevo Cockpit Personnel Association said that Russia's main airline was employing "tired pilots who can fall asleep at any moment."
"Because of Aeroflot's greed, the safety of citizens is in grave doubt," the union said in a statement.
The company did not address the union's complaint directly when contacted by AFP. But its press service said by email that "our passengers' and flight safety are top priorities of Aeroflot".
Russia's small regional airlines are notorious for their poor flight safety record.
The country saw the world's worst crash of 2013 when 44 passengers and six crew died in a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed and exploded on landing on November 17 in the central Russian city of Kazan, according to airlineratings.com, which tracks airline safety.
But Aeroflot has taken huge steps recently to improve its image while scooping up several awards for Eastern European service in the process.
Aeroflot's share of the Russian market has slipped to just 40 percent -- a far cry from the days in the Soviet era when it proclaimed itself as the world's largest airline.
But the company has been on an upswing of late thanks to new standards adopted once it became a member of the SkyTeam alliance in 2006.
SkyTeam now calls Aeroflot's fleet "one of the most modern, youngest and fastest-growing ... in Europe."
Aeroflot this year also burnished its image by becoming the official carrier of the Manchester United football club.
The carrier's statement noted that "Aeroflot was the first Russian carrier to enter the (International Air Transport Association's) Operational Safety Audit Registry, and has confirmed the certificate for the fifth time in 2013."
© 2014 AFP
Date: Jan 28, 2014