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Rudy's View: Aeroflot Puffs Around the World

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The Russian airline, Aeroflot, took a giant step backward this week. In a compromise with US transport officials, Aeroflot announced the return of smoking on its flights serving this country. Turns out Russia has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in the world: more than 50 per cent of Russian men and 25 per cent of women smoke. And darned if Aeroflot was going to give up THAT marketing advantage just because of some Department of Transportation rule! And, so what if the global trend has been to eliminate smoking on all flights? Aeroflot says most of its US routes are money losers, and the airline hopes allowing passengers to light up will boost business. Under the deal just worked out, up to 16 per cent of coach seats and 40 per cent of business class seats can be designated as smoking seats. You can go nuts in first class, where everyone is allowed to smoke. When buying tickets, passengers are to be notified that smoking is permitted.

So...guess who Aeroflot's marketing partner is? Air France. Coincidence? I think not. Air France officials must be very confused - they just recently banned smoking on all their flights. I wonder if Parisian-bound passengers will consider changing planes in Moscow so they can puff across the Atlantic? Why couldn't they bring back something terrific instead of smoking? Like . . . the piano bar in the first class section of jumbo jets?

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