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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

9 Carriers Blocked From EU Airspace

The Transportation Ministry said Friday that it had banned nine carriers from flying charter flights to the European Union, including UTAir and units of LUKoil and Gazprom.

The ministry said in a statement that it had learned that EU authorities were considering blacklisting the companies on safety grounds.

The ministry decided to take pre-emptive steps to avoid damage to the country's reputation, Deputy Transportation Minister Alexander Misharin said.

"Nobody has asked us. We simply decided to fully exclude the possibility" of Russian companies appearing on the blacklist, Misharin said.

He said the EU deals differently in each case with companies it adds to its blacklist, which comprises carriers not permitted to fly in the 27-nation bloc.

Companies under the ban include UTAir, Atlant-Soyuz, Russkoye Nebo, Tatarstan, Aviakon Tsitotrans, Aero Rent and Tsentr Avia.

The European Commission conducted inspections of the air carriers over the past two years and turned up numerous violations of air traffic and safety regulations, the Transportation Ministry said in a statement.

It said all the carriers had been informed of the results of the inspections but failed to submit plans to state regulators on correcting the violations.

The ban on charter flights went into effect Feb. 12, Kommersant reported.

An UTAir official, however, said he was unaware of the ban.

"We are really surprised because we have received no official warnings or notifications. Our specialists are trying to figure out what's going on," said the official, Yury Mishukhin.

(Reuters, MT)