UPDATE: Medvedev: Must cut number of airlines in Russia after Yak-42 crash

(Adds information on cutting companies in sixth paragraph, expert opinion in seventh paragraph)

MOSCOW, Sep 8 (PRIME) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday said that the number of airlines operating in Russia must be significantly reduced following the crash of a Yak-42 plane that occurred on Wednesday in the Yaroslavl Region and killed over 40 people, RIA Novosti reported.

The situation in the civil aviation industry in Russia must be radically changed, Medvedev said at a meeting of the accidents emergency response team.

It is a grave tragedy and an event with serious resonance, Medvedev also said, adding that the investigation into the accident should be public and open.

The Russian government is to take difficult decisions on the renewal of the countrys air fleet, with the priority to be put on passenger safety rather on the interests of the domestic aircraft manufacturing industry, Medvedev said, adding that if domestic manufacturers are unable to operate to a satisfactory level, aircraft should be purchased abroad.

Furthermore, Medvedev ordered the Transportation Ministry and other agencies to pay special attention to the level of professional training of flight personnel in civil aviation.

Meanwhile, Deputy Transportation Ministry Valery Okulov said on Thursday that the ministry has not decided upon the number of airlines to be shut down. The number of airlines operating in Russia currently amounts to 130, with about 85% of the total regular passenger traffic carried out by 10 major companies.

Experts from the Russian tourism industry have responded negatively to the planned cuts. If the number of airlines is cut, air transportion in Russias remote regions will quickly become more complicated, Irina Turina, press secretary of the Russian Tourism Industry Union, said on Thursday.

A Yak-42, operated by charter company Yak Service, crashed in the Yaroslavl Region on Wednesday, killing 43 people. The plane had 45 people on board, including eight crew members, and was carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team to the Belarusian capital of Minsk. One of the two survivors is hockey player Alexander Galimov and the other is a crew member.


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