updated 10/16/2007 6:02:28 PM ET 2007-10-16T22:02:28

The world's largest airline is adding a booming Moscow to its list of destinations.

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American Airlines said Tuesday it will offer direct flights from O'Hare International Airport to the Russian capital beginning next summer, making it just the second U.S. carrier to fly into Moscow and the first to fly there nonstop from Chicago.

Flights from Chicago will begin June 2 and operate daily except Sundays, using 225-seat Boeing 767-300 aircraft. Departures from Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport also will be six days a week — every day but Monday.

Delta Air Lines is the only U.S. airline that currently flies into Moscow, with direct flights from both New York and Atlanta. The Russian flagship airline Aeroflot also operates nonstop flights between Moscow and both New York and Los Angeles.

"The Russian economy is booming and many of our nation's top 100 corporations are doing business there, so the time is right to begin serving Moscow," said David Cush, American's senior vice president for global sales. "Our Chicago hub is well-positioned to draw passengers and shippers from throughout the nation's heartland to travel to Moscow, providing our customers with the route network they value."

American, a unit of Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp., said Moscow is its fifth major international destination added out of O'Hare since November 2005, following announcements of flights to Delhi, India, and Shanghai, China — which have begun — and flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina, starting Dec. 13, and to Beijing in March 2009.

Tom Parsons, who operates the travel Web site Bestfares.com, said the move makes sense at a time when U.S. airlines are putting more emphasis on high-yield international routes. He noted that a traveler will have to pay $1,258  to fly round trip from Chicago to Moscow on American next July, not counting $180 in fuel charges plus taxes.

"It's one of those markets where you can demand more money," he said. "They'd rather fly that route all day long than go from Chicago to Hawaii for $500, which is about the same air miles."

United Airlines, headquartered in Chicago, is the other main carrier at O'Hare. It has added other international routes, but not to Russia.

"If American does well with this route, then you can bet that the eyes of United will be on them," Parsons said.

UAL spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the airline is "always looking at new, emerging destinations where our customers tell us they want service to."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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