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Russia may suspend air service with Tajikistan starting November 8 — ministry

A source in Russia’s Transport Ministry says flights to Tajikistan may be suspended, unless the country’s aviation authorities change their position on Moscow’s new Zhukovsky International Airport

MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. Flights to Tajikistan may be suspended starting November 8, unless the country’s aviation authorities change their position on Zhukovsky airport, a source in Russia’s Transport Ministry told TASS Thursday.

Earlier Kommersant business daily reported with reference to sources that Russia may suspend flights to Tajikistan on a unilateral basis on November 8 due to Dushanbe’s refusal to approve flights operated by Russian carriers from Moscow’s new Zhukovsky International Airport.

"If the position of Tajikistan’s aviation authorities remains unchanged, the Russian side reserves the right to suspend air service between Russia and Tajikistan starting 00:00 November 8, 2016 in order to avoid infringing of the rights of Russian airlines," the source in the Ministry told TASS.

According to the Ministry, Tajikistan’s aviation authorities are reluctant to approve flights operated by Russian airlines from Zhukovsky International Airport to the Central Asian country, saying that the airport belongs to Moscow’s airport hub, whereas according to the Russian legislation, Zhukovsky belongs to the Ramensky region. International flights from Moscow’s airport hub are covered by bilateral agreements, which stipulate equal terms for flights between the countries, the Ministry said.

Russia’s Transport Ministry also assumes the attempt by Tajikistan to define the status of the Russian airport violates the sovereignty of Russian authorities on their own territory, while the refusal to approve assignments for a Russian carrier from Zhukovsky directly violates the air service agreement between the countries.

Also, the Ministry said, the passengers on the flights connecting Moscow and Dushanbe are mainly migrant workers from Tajikistan, which provide "up to 48% of the country’s GDP at Russia’s expense." Thus, the suspension of air service between the countries will seriously affect Tajikistan’s economy.

Tajikistan’s Transport Ministry assumes flights from the new Russian airport Zhukovsky amid current environment are unprofitable, head of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation at the Ministry of Transport оf the Republic of Tajikistan Muhammadyusuf Rahmonov said earlier in an interview with the Avesta information agency. He added that the talks between aviation agencies of the two countries regarding flights, including from Zhukovsky, are scheduled for November 24.

According to Rahmonov, as of today two Tajik and two Russian companies operate flights to Dushanbe (Dushanbe Airport) and Moscow (Domodedovo Airport) on a parity basis. "The Tajik side earlier granted permits for operating flights to Russian and other international airlines until March 24, 2017, though the Russian side has not issued such permits for Tajik air carriers," he added. "The permits for Tajik companies for operating flights to Russia expire on December 1, and the plan is to hold talks to settle those issues in the middle of the third ten-day period of November," Rahmonov said.