Aeroflot To Set Up Four Regional Hubs Outside Of Moscow, Changing Russian Transportation Patterns Forever – OpEd


In an indication of what the Kremlin’s move toward the economic regionalization may in fact look like, Aeroflot has announced that it plans to establish four hubs outside of Moscow and to begin flights between and among them and not only via Moscow’s Sheremetyevo as is currently the case.

According to a report in Vedomosti, the four will include St. Petersburg, Sochi, Krasnoyarsk, and a city in the Urals, most likely either Yekaterinburg or Chelyabinsk ( and

The project will cost hundreds of millions of US dollars, the company says; and it will take some years to be completed. But if the Russian “hub” system works as the American one does, it will fundamentally change the relations of other regional cities among themselves and between them and Moscow.

On the one hand, flights to more distant parts of Russia, including Moscow, will under this system go through these hub cities rather than as now going to Moscow and then on to the destinations. That will make these hubs vastly more important than the other cities outside of Moscow.

And on the other, it will mean that people in the regions will look to their regional hub city rather than to Moscow for their transportation needs. That shift in orientation regarding transportation is likely to affect the mental maps people have, reducing the centrality of Moscow and increasing the importance of regions and regional hub cities.

Because the economic and potentially political consequences of this change are so great, the cities of Yekaterinbug and Chelyabinsk are now locked in an intense competition to be Aeroflot’s regional hub in the Urals. The winning city will gain in stature, and the loser is certain to fade (

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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