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MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. Russia’s ministry of transport said on Sunday it will impose a ban on a number of flights performed by Tajikistan’s Somon Air to Russia from 08:30 a.m. Moscow time on April 3.
The ban comes as response to the refusal of the Tajik aviation authorities to reach an agreement on flights by Russia’s Yamal air company from the Zhukovsky airport outside Moscow.
"On March 31, a notification about response ‘mirror’ measures was referred to the Tajik side. Thus, a ban on Somon Air flights from Dushanbe (four flights a week) and Khudxhant (three flights a week) to Russian is imposed starting from 05:30 UTC on April 3," the ministry said in a press release.
Yamal is the second air carrier authorized to perform flights from Zhukovsky to Tajikistan. The company has earlier applied for performing four flights a week from Zhukovsky to Dushanbe and three flights a week to Khudzhant. Initially, these flights were to start from December 20, 2016 but Tajikistan disputed Yamal’s authorization to perform flights from Zhukovsky arguing that it would be a breech in parity in terms of the number of authorized air carriers on both sides. By that time, flights from Zhukovsky were performed by Russia’s Urals Airlines while Tajikistan’s Somon Air flied to Domodedovo.
As a matter of fact, Tajikistan refuses to recognize Zhukovsky as a regional airport as parity in the number of air carriers is applicable only to flights to and from airports of the Moscow aviation hub. Under the Russian laws, Zhukovsky is referred to Moscow region’s jurisdiction. The parties to the dispute have even resorted to restrictions on air services.
After another round of talks early this year, the sides agreed that Yamal will be able to begin regular flights from Zhukovsky to Dushanbe in the IATA summer season beginning from March 26. However in late March Tajikistan confirmed only 50% of Yamal’s applications for flights.
"In the meantime, Russia’s aviation authorities upheld all applications of Tajik air carriers till April 2, 2017 in order to give time to the Tajik side to confirm Yamal’s applications," the Russian ministry of transport said.
In an interview with TASS in late March, Russian Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov pledged the ministry would do its best to have Tajikistan’s aviation authorities agree flights from Zhukovsky to Dushanbe.