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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Levitin Hints at Easing Aircraft Tariffs

APBackers of the domestic aircraft industry picketing the White House on Thursday to protest importing foreign planes.
Russia, which has long guarded its ailing aerospace industry with high duties on foreign planes, may ease import restrictions on certain Boeing and Airbus models, government officials said on Thursday.

"We've isolated ourselves with import duties on new aircraft. And the old ones we import are rubbish," Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said during a Cabinet meeting.

Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref agreed and urged the government to come up next month with a policy softening restrictions.

"You can't revive the industry at the expense of people's lives," he said.

The move came weeks after a problem with Russia's flagship Ilyushin 96-300 passenger plane disrupted a trip by President Vladimir Putin, raising concerns about the safety of domestic passenger jets.

The government grounded all Il-96 planes for repair work.

Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, also present at the meeting, said the move would most likely concern Boeing 787 and Airbus 350 aircraft.

"There are certain planes that the [Russian] aerospace sector does not produce. Those need more liberal conditions," he said.

It remains difficult for domestic airliners to switch to Western planes because import duties and value-added tax are as high as 40 percent of an aircraft's purchase prices.