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MINSK, March 26 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia wants to increase the number of daily flights from Moscow to Minsk to five, a top executive of Belarus’ national airlines Belavia said on Monday.
According to Igor Cherginets, Belavia’s deputy director general, this intention was behind Russia’s decision to revoke Belavia’s flight permit.
“The motives of the Russian side were as follows: we want more flights and we will make more flights,” Cherginets said. In his words, today’s telegram from the Russian air transport agency notifying of the permit revocation in 2012 openly said this.
Cherginets reminded that in line with Russian-Belarusian agreements, Moscow and Minsk make flights on a parity basis. “The Russian side insisted on five flights despite the fact that it exceeds the number of flights performed by the Belarusian side,” he said. Apart from that, if more flights are allowed between the two capitals, their efficiency will go down. In his words, only 55 percent of seats onboard planes making flights between Russia and Belarus are occupied and airlines’ losses will inevitably increase in case more flights are added.
He also reminded that following the Russian ban the Belarusian air transport authorities had to revoke permits from all Russian air companies but later it was agreed to resume flights between Moscow and Minsk. The Belarusian side, he noted, had to meet Moscow halfway and issue a temporary permit for five flights a day until negotiations on Thursday.
In the mean time, one of the two suspended Belavia’s planes took off from Minsk to Moscow at 11:22 a.m. local time (12:22 Moscow time). The second plane will soon take off as well.
Today’s dispute has told on as many as 360 passengers, who were unable to fly in both directions in time, Cherginets said.
“Some strange force has intervened and Russian air transport authorities revoked Belavia’s license having ruined the passengers’ plans, many of whom were to make a transit stopover in Moscow,” he said. In his words, on passengers’ request the Belarusian side either returned money for unused tickets or provided seats onboard other planes.
“The parity principle must be observed,” i.e. each side is to perform four flights a day, as was provided in the Belarusian-Russian intergovernmental agreement he stressed.