Delta Stops Codesharing With Russian Government-Owned Aeroflot, What Took So Long?

Delta Air Lines today announced that they have suspended codeshares with SkyTeam alliance member Aeroflot, which is 57% owned by the Russian government. I’m surprised it took this long. Beyond Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson there appears to be very little sympathy for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian attack has seemed inevitable and that even if the military buildup had started as a bluff the game theory had a logical conclusion. Putin couldn’t back down without major concessions he wasn’t getting. And it probably didn’t begin as a bluff, at 70 years old this was likely his last big chance to expand the Russian frontier and population.

While a Russian victory seems inevitable, their military has performed below expectations. This may reduce their leverage over other neighbors rather than growing it, and might even drive additional nations (Finland/Sweden) closer to NATO membership rather than scaring them off of it.

And the domestic costs to Putin of a long-running guerrilla actions against Russian forces may be greater than he’d anticipated.

This is kind of funny, and aviation-related:

Oh, and Russian state-owned companies that are now being sanctioned by the Biden administration have been receiving U.S. government subsidies from a program in place because of its biggest beneficiary, Boeing.

Where does this end? I am neither an expert on Putin nor the region. However Putin’s appetites have already been shown to be greater than many believed. Should more be done in response? Perhaps, but not only does Russia possess nuclear weapons (likely wouldn’t be used), they also have significant cyber warfare capabilities. U.S. and European moves against Russian could be met with an asymmetric response. And yet U.S. markets were up yesterday, and significantly up again today – perhaps because the actual policy response has been somewhat muted, and perhaps because global events could forestall or minimize interest rate hikes.

American Airlines partners with oneworld member S7, the Siberian carrier. Unlike Aeroflot it is privately-owned.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Serious question — what has Tucker Carlson said in support of the Russian invasion? I don’t watch TV.

  2. Any specifics on Tucker Carlson showing support for this? I don’t think I heard about it elsewhere

  3. Tucker has not said anything in support of the invasion. That is a weak straw man.

    Prior to the invasion, he did present a contrarian opinion (as he usually does) to the idea that we must stop Putin at all costs…

  4. The Tucker Carlson thing was largely a joke.

    Putin says that Putin is morally superior to ‘permanent Washington’ and Russian state media has been rebroadcasting his takes on the conflict

    here’s the russian broadcast of carlson

    Last month he said “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?”

  5. Hard to know what is really going on. Twitter “news” could be real or could be propaganda (aka fake news).
    Sanctions always seem to be too little too late. Just look at North Korea, Cuba or Iran. Still going despite decades of sanctions. Perhaps the only thing that helps is removing people from power permanently by doing a special ops inside enemy territory.

  6. I’ve got a round-trip flight to Helsinki booked for this summer. Was struggling with visiting St. Petersburg but now wondering about Finland itself.

    Today Russia threatened Finland and Sweden with “military and political consequences” if they join NATO.

  7. Gary, showing sympathy for Putin pre-invasion is not the equivalent of showing sympathy for the invasion.

  8. @Gary: Tucker Carlson was certainly not ‘enthusiastic’ about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Where do you get your information?

    What he did say is that it is not worth a single American life meddling in that dispute. A view held by a majority of the US population.

  9. Trump’s comments were taken out of context too IMO. He said it was a genius move on the part of Putin to call it a “peacekeeping” mission. That is all. And you have to admit, it was a pretty smart move.

    Not sure why the left blew up…maybe because it was Trump…but I agreed with his thought process. Putin is playing chess while Biden is playing checkers. It’s frustrating that this is where we are these days – “one side’s” media continuously jumping on the other instead of actually just reporting.

  10. @Peter – I have a trip to Sweden in May and don’t expect to have a problem. If Russia tried to move on other countries next it would likely be the Baltic states but, since they are NATO members it would be much more difficult for him and likely met with combined military resistance (which I think he is not crazy enough to want). The comment about Finland and Sweden if they seek NATO membership shouldn’t have any immediate impact since neither has applied and I doubt anything would happen in the near term. IMHO, this will be negotiated to a cease fire within a month or two with Russia likely getting some concessions (and may put in a puppet government like in Belarus) but expansion to any other nations would be much more of a problem for Putin.

  11. You know you are on the wrong side of history (and common human decency) when Russian State TV rebroadcasts your “Vladimir Putin hasn’t personally hurt me speech, so why should I not like him. I’m just ‘asking questions'” in full with subtitles. But comrades are everywhere I guess.

  12. I bet Justin Castreau of Canada is Putin’s biggest fan right now. No more headlines about his dictatorship up north- so he can rule in seclusion.

  13. “Beyond Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson there appears to be very little sympathy for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

    That’s because most people, including you, get their information from the MSM and are disinterested in doing the work required to learn the real issues at hand.

  14. Ah, here come the traitor trump (who tried to overthrow the US Government) and his enabling fox news defenders! One country trying to enslave another through military force is not right and should not be called genius. I have to laugh when people use the “out of context” shtick. There is no context in which support for this invasion is morally defensible. The world will be surprised how hard the Ukrainians defend their homes. They don’t play…..

  15. I expect Finland and Sweden and other to join NATO or atleast support a joint defense. Putin is a crazy man so no one knows what he might do. China is even unsure of him, they didn’t provide glowing support and only 50% of Russian people (my guess is it’s lower, they just don’t want to go to jail) supports this action. As the dead start to come home for no good reason, the tide will turn. People like Trump think Putin is a genius, fact is, he as dumb as Trump and like Hitler he will take his own life when he fails, but thousands will die for the ideas of a made man.

  16. The real issue is oil and gas and neither Europe or the US can deal with the consequences of cutting oil Putin’s petroleum exports.
    The last US President had the US energy independent even in the roaring pre-covid economy. The US imports energy once again including from Russia even as Americans paid for higher energy prices even before the Ukraine invasion.

    The real disgrace is that pathetic decisions in Washington DC and Europe have enabled Putin to advance his agenda.

    Delta’s codeshare with Aeroflot isn’t even a subscript on the 5000th page of Putin’s manifesto and only Gary could not only conflate the truth but so badly miss the forest for the trees.

    And specific to US airlines, United Airlines spends more on overflight fees JUST ON ITS US to India flights and vv. than is involved in the DL-SU codeshare.

    another perspective fail from the Left Wing.

  17. I have no specific knowledge of today’s British Airways systems outage though they deny it’s hacking.

    I do know that BA is entirely capable of IT malfeasance without any help from the Russians…

  18. Two points I wish to make:

    1. Getting back to travel related issues – if/when Russia closes off it’s airspace from EU airlines, this will have a big consequence on those airlines flying to Asia (just when Asia is somewhat beginning to re-open…). Bummer.

    2. Re: the Finland / Sweden issue other have mentioned here – I actually think that those countries are a much more likely target for Putin than people here believe. It is exactly because of the fact they are not in NATO currently that Putin feels he can attack them with pretty much immunity (Biden confirmed this – saying clearly that if a NATO ally is attacked, he’ll act. If you’re not in NATO – forget about it. Your fate is like Ukraine’s now).
    Also, let’s not forget the Russians (Soviets) have a score to settle with Finland – they fought a war there in the 30’s, and lost kind of badly. Putin is all about settling historical scores if nothing else.

  19. If Putin expands his pursuit beyond the former Soviet Union including to western Europe, NATO or not, the world will push back strongly.
    There is growing push back to Putin even in Russia. He doesn’t have the resources to support a long-term war w/o punishing costs to his own citizens which are at least ethnically related to many of the parts of the countries that left the USSR.

    The same will happen to China if it goes after Taiwan.

    The world is simply not in a position to accept business as usual w/ countries that do not believe other country’s boundaries apply to them.

    Delta’s message says that more than anything financial.

    And let’s remember that Delta has an equity stake in China Eastern that might get wiped off its books along w/ AA’s stake in China Southern. The stakes w/ China are much higher not just for the airline industry but the rest of the global economy.

  20. Russia is justified. The us started all this with their coup in 2014 funded by the Us state department.

    I’m glad Putin is taking out the trash.

  21. As someone who watches Tucker Carlson almost nightly, He never supported this invasion. He has has several times called on our leaders to explain to the American Public how US involvement helps America. Of course Our leaders have not told us wy, and have labeled the term “Russian sympathizers” to everyone who asks.

  22. Gary, maybe you missed the “savvy invasion” comment by a certain former disgraced fascist-wannabe US leader

  23. How is this decision in the interest of either DAL’s shareholders or its customers?

    It seems like whenever there are international crises (whether a pandemic or geopolitical event), we as travelers get punished first. Can we please be trusted to make our own individual decisions, for once?

  24. Marco,
    you can buy separate tickets – you just can’t combine Delta and Aeroflot on the same ticket under a codeshare. You can still buy the same flights under standard interline connections

    You are free to do what you want but the vast majority of Americans support Ukraine. Companies that have a remote inkling of that sentiment have no choice but to do the same esp. re: their commercial relationships

  25. @Tim Dunn
    Thanks for sharing your view on this – and generally I do appreciate the wide spectrum of opinions on this blog forum.

  26. Sweden’s moving into NATO. The top in the country is scared that their “enemy to the East” is truly back and going to want a piece of them, sort of like back around when the Swedish empire met its demise due to the Russian empire. There is more than one reason why Sweden is a main (and disproportionately large) conduit for weapons getting into Ukrainian hands for the fight against Russia.

    Finland at the top still seems to not want to move as much into NATO as Sweden. Finland shouldn’t forget that after they stopped being part of Sweden’s eastern realm, the Russians had them and eventually wanted them as a buffer state. They are the next Ukraine if Russia wants back more than just its Soviet bloc countries back fully as its puppets.

  27. I fear Tim Dunn overestimates the resolve of the world in taking on Russia and China. Even the purported US ally India — a country paranoid about China — is more or less keeping quiet in the face of Russia and China getting closer and Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine.

  28. Probably the backlash that Trump, Sucker Carlson and their mindless dictator loving minions would unleash.

  29. 747always,

    It’s unfortunately not just the Indian PM; it’s also the Indian government as a whole. And they haven’t kept quiet as much as they’ve said mushy-wushy nonsense that speaks volumes about India not wanting to take any kind of strong stance that displeases Russia in “Russia’s natural neighborhood” of Ukraine and elsewhere within what was the Soviet bloc.

    India still seems to be very much spineless when it comes to what Russia does. Compared to that, India seems to have a sort of spine when it comes to what the US does.

    Other than with regard to concerns about China, India isn’t a reliable ally to the US. I wish it were otherwise, but even decades of US and Indian appreciation for both being democratic republics — although both populations are less committed to being liberal democratic republics at home now than they used to be — isn’t going to change the nature and interests of India. Whether it’s this Indian PM or another.

    India is increasingly becoming like a bigger version of Pakistan — just that it’s a different version of religious zealotry driving the country and the military isn’t in the driver’s seat. As with Pakistan, so with India: untrustworthy “allies” to the US.

  30. GUWonder,
    WWII in Europe might be a history lesson for nearly all Europeans but they aren’t ignorant of history.
    People around the world recognize that the world has made no progress if countries can run over other countries based on desires to build their own world and regime and without regard to national borders.
    Let’s see how all of this plays out but I suspect Ukraine won’t play out the way Crimea or Georgia did or how Taiwan might play out.

  31. Tim Dunn,

    Given the behavior of so many European countries in the run-up to Russia’s busting a move into Ukraine this week and their behavior even after Putin had gone so far as to have also seized Chernobyl this week, I would say the lessons of history from WW2 and before have been going in one tin ear and out the other for most EUropeans too. While the wake-up calls have gone out and been answered in part, the veneer of European “unity” that there is against Russia is not thick enough still; and it is easily pierced like the imagined sophistication of Europeans when it comes to history lessons.

    Putin has set up the long game in Europe better than the EUropeans did in their own space, and so he is set up to divide and conquer — if only the Russians don’t manage to eliminate Putin from power first. The old St. Pete hand and descendant of Stalin’s cook is eager on setting up his legacy as being the second coming of Peter the Great with his Russian empire. He is trying to unwind the nationalism streak that marked the end of Russian nationalist imperialism when the Soviet Union collapsed and in turn mark the return of a Russian empire with him as “Putin the Great”, “the most powerful Russian since Peter the Great”.

    When Finland is still even more hesitant than Sweden to join NATO, it speaks to being ignorant of history. You are aware of Finland’s history with Russia ever since Finland was stripped from being part of the Swedish dominion?

    And right next to Finland — Russia’s buffer state of the past — is Sweden, a country with a long-standing profound suspicion of Russia which hasn’t moved into NATO yet. Sweden hasn’t even formalized a move to become a member. Even with Sweden moving into NATO, Sweden could still chicken out, and Putin is counting on that. While Sweden — with less than a quarter of Ukraine’s population — has been backing Ukraine earlier and disproportionately more than most European countries, even Sweden has not yet made the changes to even supply the Ukrainians in the way they did with de facto, under-the-table war support that Sweden gave the Nazis around and during WW2.

    There is no historical sophistication in Europe. They are just as bad as people elsewhere in the developed world when it comes to history and its lessons. And by the time they act on lessons, it’s only because they are frightened upon realizing they have been late to the game and are thus underprepared.

    Russia could more than easily decapitate the governments of both Sweden and Finland within short order. Because they didn’t keep in mind one key lesson of history: history tends to repeat itself.

  32. Sweden and Finland would be a walk in the park for Putin, compared to the more hardened Ukrainians. The Nordic countries and the rest of Europe better hope that the Ukrainians really give Putin a bad bloody nose and bog down Putin if he won’t leave, or Putin and others of his mindset in Russia may take advantage of the Ukrainians have more to fight and more in fight in them than most countries in Europe.

  33. The ReTrumplicans have now become RePutlicans, they seem to have a penchant for megalomaniacal thieving despots, who while only serving themselves, create greater general pain

  34. GU Wonder,
    let me just say what a pleasure it is to intelligently and respectfully discuss major issues w/ people like you even if we do not agree w/ each other on every point – as our interactions show. Compared to the excessive number of low quality, name-calling posts on this site, it is because there is some high quality interaction that I bother to participate in the discussions.

    While I agree w/ you on most points, I think the calculus that is changing is that the US is now in a position to tell major European powers that they need to not only pay for their own defense but also to make strategic decisions that enhance their own security as a group. The American people are tired of paying for the defense of countries that sabotage their own success. Japan and S. Korea are being more responsible in their own defense than Germany.

    It is easy for Germany to not have to worry about Russia given that Germany and Russia do not share direct borders – but other NATO countries are on the front lines and NATO has to figure out how act in one accord.
    Even WRT aviation, it is noteworthy that Poland and some of the Baltic countries have closed their airspace to Russia, Russia reciprocated but German airlines including LH Group airlines in other countries can overfly NATO countries to serve Russia. That is the kind of stuff that has to end. If one NATO country has to close its airspace for its own security, then all NATO country airlines have to do the same.

    Putin wants to split NATO. The US and other NATO countries need to act as one – and that includes shutting off the gas lines that pass through frontline NATO countries to Germany and non-Russia frontline countries if they don’t do what is in the best interest of the group as a whole.

    NATO countries need to be pushing the US to re-expand its energy capacity and commit to buying from the US, including LNG, even as the US tells the EU that they must turn their nuclear power plants back on until the US and the EU can develop long term energy solutions. The US, not Russia, should be the strongest energy partner with the EU.

    Airlines always reflect larger political and and economic trends. It is necessary for aviation’s sake that the root issues are addressed with real solutions

    Thanks for the good discussion.

  35. @James N
    You must be a 20th something, living with your parents behind locked doors doing research while the rest of us work for a living. Do your parents also call you “Narcissistic Know It All”?

  36. News now saying that Germany is sending western produced tank and helicopter killing weaponry, a major advance of Germany’s position on engagement in foreign conflicts. NATO countries bordering Ukraine have already done the same time.
    Ukraine is incredibly resilient and they are providing the people; the west is providing the weapons and resources.
    If Russia is being slowed down by western weapon systems even when operated by a number of hastily or poorly trained Ukrainians, then this conflict might be a big redefinition of how democracy is defended.

  37. There are some intelligent debate points exchanged but mostly it is the ignorant supporting the more ignorant. Let’s face it folks, Putin the criminal has just started the opening battle of WW3 by his invasion of Ukraine. God help those innocent suffering 44 million, and the rest of Europe. And he warned everyone that anyone who interferes could get hit with a nuclear strike. So he is a criminal in addition to being and madman. No one talks that way in 2022. Is the West and NATO strong-willed enough to out fox and prevail?? Those who defend what Trump, Pompeo and Carlson said in admiration and support of the madman/ criminal need some reeduation.

  38. Tim Dunn,

    I too participate in the comments (at times, more than I should 😉 ) because I most appreciate those times when there are comments from commenters like you that take an articulate and principled position (whether I disagree or not is beside the point), discuss it in an honest way with openness to facts (inconvenient or not to a held position) that may lead to being better informed or motivating people to seek out more information than would happen if not engaged in the conversation.

    The Jerry Springer-worthy stuff in the comments is not the real good stuff that keeps me here; what gets me back is the breaks in between with the intelligent stuff that makes it worth checking out, whether I agree with something or not.

    About Germany, I’ve been concerned for quite some time and then some that they have been too close to Russia and were in too deep with their energy and business relationships with Russia. When they started prohibiting use of German airspace to militarily support Ukraine; it was disappointing but not a surprise to me. Same for German opposition to cutting Russia off from SWIFT. It’s appreciated that they are changing gear but it’s been slow in the making.

  39. @Tim Dunn

    “The last US President had the US energy independent even in the roaring pre-covid economy. The US imports energy once again including from Russia even as Americans paid for higher energy prices even before the Ukraine invasion.”

    But you must remember that Saudi Arabian and Russia made a deal to control oil prices in Sept. 2016. There was an informal alliance between Russia and OPEC, called OPEC+. The whole idea was that the USA’s cost to produce was much higher than theirs, and they were tired of subsidizing the US oil industry with higher oil prices. Then Russia walked out of deal. Between Jan and March 2020, (before Covid) oil prices dropped to zero per barrel because of the glut. Then there were sanctions put on Russia by Trump in Feb. 2020 which also contributed to the lower prices as retribution. The effects were massive in the world economy. Many US oil producers shut down and some went bankrupt. Of course the Russians and the Saudis claim there was no deal, but there definitely was. Add Covid and the drop in energy usage, and rest is history. But the US trusts the Saudis and we shouldn’t!

  40. JohnB,
    global energy is largely held by powers that America would not have as friends if they didn’t have oil or the abililty to manage hostilities in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia can do both.
    The point is that the US is one of the few developed, democratic countries that has enough energy to not only provide for all of its own needs but also supply a significant portion of the rest of the world.
    The US can’t lose sight of the ability and it must not be sold or diminished for any reason.

    The US also has the world’s largest developed economy and the largest airline industry; all of that is closely linked by design.

    One part can’t be taken out without affecting the rest.

    My late father in law was part of rebuilding Germany post WWII. I don’t want US service people to die in Europe again. I want them to buy our oil and allow them to thrive based on the products we produce and sell if they can’t produce it themselves.

  41. Even this week, the Saudis, Emiratis and Russians have been in bed together on Ukraine because for all three of them, it’s all about the ONG money.

    The Emirati and Saudi rulers loved Trump because he was expected to be good for their business, as what was good for Russia’s gas station business was good for their business too since it’s all about the petrodollars.

    The US was already en-route to be a surplus energy producer even before Trump was elected. Trump was late to the game.

    Saudi Arabia can’t manage any hostilities, and it’s more about driving up hostilities than tampering them down. Saudi Arabia is the root cause of instability across much of SW, Central and South Asia, going back to at least it’s jumping in on the “Green Belt” game. Even in its own immediate neighborhood, it has made the mess worse from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon. It even tried to make hay with little Qatar.

  42. Oh, let’s not forget that another unifying thing between Trump and his Emirati and Saudi supporters: paranoia about Shia-led Iran.

  43. For those who keep making excuses for Trump and trying to cover for his love of all things Putin, this article is from the WSJ on February 24,2022

    “Former President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin smart and criticized the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

    “I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart,” Mr. Trump said during a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday night, according to a recording of the event posted online, contending that Mr. Putin wouldn’t have invaded if he were still president.

    In a telephone interview with Fox News late Wednesday night, as Russia launched its invasion, Mr. Trump called the unfolding events a “very sad thing for the world and the country.” He said Mr. Biden hadn’t done enough to dissuade Mr. Putin from invading.

    “He was going to be satisfied with a piece and now he sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity of this administration,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News on Wednesday night.

    It is the second time Mr. Trump called Mr. Putin smart in recent days. He made similar comments during a radio interview earlier this week.

    “I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius,’ ” Mr. Trump said during the radio interview “Putin declares a big portion of of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. So, Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’”

    I guess Trump was joking or taken out of context, that’s what the right-wingers say whenever Trump shows his true colors.

    Trump, your hero, sucks up to Putin like a little b… you know what.

  44. It amazes me how much of the narrative is simplified to Putin’s personality and Russian agression. I would like people to remember there is a rather long context of the current incursions that goes back at least to 2014, though longer, and this includes failure of diplomacy, unwillingness to implement provisions of the Minsk accord, and the successive undoing of mutual security agreements. As to airspace restrictions, airline closures, lease cancellations, parts blockades, I am never convinced this is good for the aviation industry. I know the argument, peanut costs if we can punish the agressor into compliance or irrelevance. There are many countries that see things differently, and not all of them are people’s republics.

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