Tajikistan's Flagship Air Carrier Banned

The Federal Air Transportation Agency on Saturday banned Tajikistan's national airline from flying to Russia, citing violations of air transport agreements.

The agency said the temporary ban was in response to illegal fees that Russian airlines flying to Tajikistan have been subjected to by the Tajik aviation agency, RIA-Novosti and Interfax reported. The agency said this was in violation of an agreement between the two countries.

Calls to Russian and Tajik aviation officials went unanswered.

The impoverished Central Asian nation's only airline, Tajik Air, operates flights to three Russian cities -- Moscow, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. The flights are highly popular as hundreds of thousands of Tajiks work in Russia as seasonal workers.

The Russian side is upset over a fee that Tajikistan imposed in September on Russian airlines that fly routes not offered by Tajik Air, Interfax reported, citing an S7 airline official. Tajik authorities recently delayed a Dushanbe-Chelyabinsk flight for eight hours over its refusal to pay. The fee is $10 per passenger.