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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

KLM, SAS, Finnair Flights Restricted

Russia retaliated Tuesday over a European Union noise ban on its workhorse Il-86 passenger planes by announcing reductions on incoming flights by three Western airlines, officials from the airlines said.

Finnair, Scandinavia's SAS and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines NV said they had been informed of the move by Russian officials after EU noise requirements came into force Monday.

Moscow has said the EU noise ban could bar up to 80 percent of its planes from European skies. Finnish flag carrier Finnair said a Thursday flight from Helsinki to Moscow and a return flight the following day had been canceled.

The company would try to rebook the affected passengers on morning Finnair flights or on Aeroflot, it said in a statement.

Separately, SAS said it had been told its flights on the Stockholm-St. Petersburg route were being cut to five a week from seven and from Copenhagen to Russia's second city to four from five.

KLM said its flights to St. Petersburg had been cut to three from seven a week starting this week.

"Russia's threat was turned into an effective restriction. Russia announced two weeks ago that restrictions would apply from the week of April 1," KLM spokesman Frank Houben said.

"Seat occupancy on the daily service [to St. Petersburg] was high, and we will transfer affected passengers to the remaining flights or book them on other carriers," he said.

Houben said the Dutch government was in talks with Russian authorities to find a solution.

Russian aviation officials were not available for comment.

"The basic reason for this retaliatory step lies in the decision to introduce noise restrictions from April 1 at European Union airports," an SAS statement said.

The EU decision, it said, was linked to planes of a certain type and was independent of the country of origin.

Russian officials said Monday that they were lobbying for permission to land the less noisy Tu-154M as an alternative to the Il-86 to keep its tourists flying.

Viktor Samokhin, deputy head of the airworthiness department at the State Civil Aviation Service, said the younger Tu-154M could replace the Il-86s, widely used on charter routes to Western Europe, thereby solving the problem.

The Il-86s could be redesignated for flights to non-European countries as cargo flights, he said.

Russia made its threat to restrict the flights of the three European airlines at a time when negotiations with EU authorities appeared to be going nowhere.

But shortly before the ban on noisy aircraft was to go into effect, Russia announced that it had won a nine-month reprieve on flights to a handful of countries, including SAS's Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It said it would also be able to negotiate flight rights with the other member states of the European Union.

As such, it had appeared that Russia would not make good on its threat to restrict the flights of EU aircraft.