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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aeroflot Pans U.S. Warning

WASHINGTON -- Russia's Aeroflot International Airlines said Tuesday a State Department warning last week about unreliable air travel in the former Soviet Union was motivated by the commercial interests of U.S. airlines and aerospace companies.

"The U.S. State Department's recent public announcement concerning 'unreliable' air travel in Russia is misleading to the traveling public, injurious to U.S.-Russia trade relations and motivated chiefly by the commercial interests of certain U.S. airlines and aerospace companies," Viktor Novosselov, Aeroflot's representative in the United States, said.

Novosselov defended the airline's safety record and said in a statement that he is considering a formal protest.

He said U.S. airlines "simply want to run down our reputation in the hope of breaking into the growing international market" in and out of Russia and its neighboring countries.

The State Department announced last week that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had issued a notice to its staff that the breakup of Aeroflot into a number of airlines made travel within Russia "often unreliable." It told employees to defer routine air travel or use other means.

"We are essentially instructed to avoid routine travel within Russia except on a case-by-case basis," a U.S. Embassy official said in Moscow last week.

The warning came as a further blow to Aeroflot after the International Airline Passengers' Association advised travelers in April to avoid flying anywhere in the Soviet Union.

Their warning came hot on the heels of a disastrous crash. In March an Aeroflot Airbus crashed in Siberia, killing all 75 passengers and crew.The teenage son of the pilot was in the cockpit not long before the plane crashed.

Last year 222 passengers and crew died in Russian aviation accidents, a sharp rise on figures from the 1980s.

The U.S. Transportation Department said last Thursday it was conducting a joint study with Russian authorities of airline safety to see that they meet international standards. Study results are expected in September.

(Reuters, MT)