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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign Flights Face New Tests

Foreign aircraft flying to Russia will soon face more systematic safety checks, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry said Tuesday.

In a step that could lead to Russia establishing an airlines blacklist, Timur Khikmatov said inspection groups would be set up at international airports to check foreign aircraft "within the next two months."

Khikmatov said the tighter checks could eventually lead to Russia setting up an airlines blacklist, but such a step would not be taken "in the near future."

"If these groups find some safety violations, then a blacklist could be drawn up," he said.

He said the airlines would come from all over the world and not just from the European Union.

At a news conference earlier Tuesday, Gennady Loshchenov, head of the Transportation Ministry's civil aviation department, denied the tighter checks were meant as retaliation against the EU for blacklisting several Russian airlines.

On June 28 the EU unveiled its latest blacklist of banned airlines.

EU officials said after discussions with Russia, the country's authorities banned four Russian airlines from flying to the EU and placed restrictions on six others.

The airlines banned by the EU authorities were Kuban Airlines, Yakutia Airlines, Airlines 400 and Kavminvodyavia and those with restrictions imposed on them were Gazpromavia, UTAir, KrasAir, Atlant Soyuz, Ural Airlines and Rossiya, the airline that operates the presidential jet.

Loshchenov said the EU had already been informed of Russia's decision.

Michele Cercone, the spokesman for the European Union Transport Commissioner, declined to comment on the matter Tuesday.

"The Rossiya company is on the list for which the Russian authorities have taken steps to limit" flights, Marc Franco, head of the European Commission's delegation to Moscow, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Franco said the list covered only certain types of aircraft operated by the Rossiya airline, not its entire fleet.