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Yakutia banned from international routes in safety crackdown

Russian carrier Yakutia is to be banned from operating international services next week, under restrictions aimed at addressing safety standards at the Siberian airline.

Federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia says the restrictions will be imposed from 5 November after inspections of the Yakutsk-based airline turned up a number of operational concerns.

Rosaviatsia states that these concerns include “incorrect information” regarding implementation of airworthiness directives on Yakutia’s Boeing 737-800s. The airline has five 737-800s among a fleet which also includes Sukhoi Superjet 100s, Bombardier turboprops and Antonov An-24s.

Yakutia says it has requested additional “clarification” on the international restrictions, in order to inform its passengers.

The regulator says that maintenance problems have led to “long and numerous delays” of the airline’s flights on both international and domestic routes, with 20% of services affected in September.

Yakutia is facing an enforced cut in its charter programme.

Rosaviatsia says that the local Sakha government, the main shareholder of the airline, has started to take action to correct the situation – there has already been a change of general director, and other senior personnel have been dismissed.

The Sakha republic’s deputy chief Alexei Kolodeznikov says the restrictions follow a surprise inspection by the regulator on 18-21 September, about three weeks before a Yakutia Superjet was badly damaged in a landing accident at Yakutsk.

He stresses that the restrictions imposed do not amount to revocation of the air operator’s certificate, but a 90-day opportunity to deal with the problems discovered.

Kolodeznikov emphasises that “ensuring the safety of Yakutia flights” is the “main issue”.

“Yakutia has adopted a plan to eliminate inconsistencies and deficiencies,” he says. “Work is already under way.”

New Yakutia general director Vladimir Gorbunov has been updating Rosaviatsia on the effort to correct the situation. Yakutia will concentrate its resources on Sakha flights and eastern Russian transport links, as well as a number of domestic connections between central and eastern Russia.

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