Belarus Unilaterally Cuts Minsk-Moscow Flight Slots

Belarus has informed Russia that Russian airlines will be able to carry out only four flights a day to Minsk from April 13, Kommersant business paper reported on Thursday.

Moscow will have to decide which Russian airline will have to cut the number of flights to Belarus. Currently, flagship airline Aeroflot performs three flights a day to the former Soviet republic while UTair and S7 fly one each.

The Russian airlines have already received warnings from the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) and the Transport Ministry that only four flights will be made by both sides a day from April 13. Officially, Russian airlines and officials have not yet confirmed the information on the reduction in the number of flights.

Russia and Belarus are bound by an agreement which stipulates parity in the number of flights made by the airlines from both countries. Flights to Moscow are performed by the Belarusian air carrier Belavia.

Until recently, Russian airlines had permission to operate four flights between the two capitals a day alongside Belavia.

In late March, Minsk and Moscow became embroiled in a row sparked by by S7 airline’s intention to operate one flight a day to Minsk. Belarus agreed but in return demanded Aeroflot remove one flight a day from its schedule. Both countries failed to settle the dispute quickly and on March 26 air links between the two ex-Soviet republics were suspended.

Russia revoked flight authorization from the Belarusian air carrier Belavia and Minsk immediately retaliated with a similar ban on all Russian airlines.

On the same day, Russia and Belarus agreed on resumption of flights for several days and subsequently until May 10. Both sides want to continue negotiations.

Russia has previously offered to lift all restrictions on the frequency of flights, a proposal rejected by Belarus, which insists that its national airlines may suffer from the dominance of Russian airlines.


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