Russian authorities to liberalize international routes

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Published: March 20, 2012

Russia’s Ministry of Transport is aiming to liberalize the country’s international airline market by establishing a new system for choosing which carriers will operate on international routes.

According to Russian authorities, carriers will now have to possess an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate, incur no tax debt and demonstrate a high level of flight regularity.

Transaero Airlines (UN) last year accused the Ministry of Transport of restricting competition and supporting a monopoly. It said the regulator withdrew permission for the carrier to operate charter flights from Moscow to Rome, Milan and Venice in the winter season. The carrier claimed the ministry withdrew permission under pressure from Aeroflot (SU), which is a designated carrier on Russia-to-Italy routes ( ATW Daily News, Dec. 2, 2011 ).

The ministry wants to establish a commission to adopt the new criteria, which will be measured using a points system. For example, a carrier will receive the most points if it eliminates safety defects. In addition, a carrier will have an advantage if it operates new Russian-built aircraft—such as the Sukhoi Superjet 100, Antonov An-148 or the Tupolev Tu-204.

UTair (UT), Russia’s third largest airline, sent a letter to the Russian Assn. of Air Transport Operators stating the new points system and criteria will not create a transparent environment for competition. UT said that authorities will violate antitrust laws if advantages are given to operators of new Russian aircraft.

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