Russia's Federal Aviation Service (FAS) expects its 1998 passenger traffic levels to be about 10% down because of the country's economic crisis.

FAS director Gennady Zaitsev says results for the first 10 months of 1998 show a 10% drop in passenger and 20% in cargo air traffic. To combat the crisis, Russia's commercial operators are keeping rouble ticket prices on domestic routes almost at pre-crisis levels.

Zaitsev says overall domestic air fares have increased by only 6% since August, while the national currency's value against the US dollar has dropped threefold.

As the state regulating authority, FAS is allowed to raise tariffs for airport services by only 8% and has so far frozen the rouble price of air navigation fees for domestic carriers. Zaitsev says the regulating policy for the next year will be determined soon at a special meeting of FAS officials, representatives of airlines and airports, and air traffic controllers.

On 4 December, Aeroflot Russian International Airlines (ARIA) carried its 4 millionth passenger in 1998.

Source: Flight International