AIRLINES: Biggest, But Hardly Best

The story was decidedly downplayed: ten lines on the back page of Pravda, under the innocuous headline ANNOUNCEMENT. But the news was dramatic: a TU-104 turbojet of Aeroflot, the Soviet state airline, crashed last week after taking off from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on a flight to Leningrad. Readers did not learn how many people died (Western estimates range from 52 to 72), nor were they told that it was the fifth major Aeroflot crash this year. Still, the announcement was rare confirmation that the world's largest, least-known airline is far from perfect....

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