Russian airlines want some China flights reopened

Some Russian carriers have been pushing for the reopening of some passenger flights to China, the Russian Transport Ministry's State Civil Aviation Service (GSGA) told RIA Novosti.

Novosibirsk-based Sibir airline has requested that the GSGA clear the renewal of Novosibirsk-Urumqi flights, a destination in western China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region where no cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) have been reported. But the carrier is not planning to renew flights to other major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shenyang.

Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot requested authorization for flights to some Chinese destinations, vowing that "all measures of stringent medical control" will be adopted. The airline did get the permission and now flies five weekly flights to China out of its former seven.

Completely banning air travel to countries where SARS cases have been registered - these number 32 already - is not an option, officials at the GSGA noted. In China, for example, Russia is building a series of large facilities, such as a nuclear power plant.

"But we can toughen control over passengers, which is what we are doing," GSGA officials said.

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