Russia’s government is to toughen laws regulating airlines following the deadly plane crash which claimed the lives of 43 people, including most of the ice-hockey team Lokomotiv. Airline companies may face mass reshuffles due to safety concerns.
On Sunday Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the grounding of all airline companies which are not adequately able to ensure passengers’ security. He demanded a set of measures be developed to stop Russian air carriers’ activities if they are not able to provide safe flights. “Deadline – November 15, 2011,” the president ordered.
Also, Medvedev demanded the fulfilment of work over planes being equipped with Terrain and Traffic Collision Avoidance System be sped up, in accordance with international standards. Transport Minister Igor Levitin and Minister of Industry and Trade, Viktor Khristenko received special orders from the president. Additionally, Medvedev ordered all civil aircraft be equipped with radio-beacons COSPAS-SARSAT by December 31, 2012. Civil penalties for violating the rules of passengers’ transportation and flight operations are also to be increased.
"That is something to start with. I generally support it and hope the government will not stop at that,” Russian TV quotes Hero of Russia and honored test pilot, Mahammad Tolboev. “I am glad that finally the voices of people like me have been heard. It is a pity that the leadership of the country went through a series of tragedies to understand that," he said.
However, experts from the tourism industry believe if president’s demands to close some companies are satisfied, that may influence domestic flights and will force air transportation companies to send prices up severely. Also, the measures will first of all toughen seriously the connection between central and distant regions, press secretary of the Russian tourism industry Irina Turina is quoted by NR2.ru news website as saying.
“This will adversely affect domestic tourist traffic. We need to develop urgently small aviation, to create specialized airlines, otherwise life in distant regions will decay completely,” Turina says. “Such a huge country like Russia needs a lot of airlines, but they must be provided with modern quality equipment,” she continued.
Aviacharter company’s CEO Alexandr Morozov says safety does not rely on the number of companies, "as a small airline with a small number of aircraft is much easier to check."
“Yak-Service, which owned the crashed plane, is a small airline undertaking only VIP-flights. These companies are managed in a different way rather than conventional carriers. The problem that exists, and methods for its solution, not bound in this case. Reduce the number of flights – so reduce competition,” Morozov told NR2.ru.
The measures follow the crash of a Yakovlev Yak-42 plane on September 7, which claimed lives of 43 people, including members of Russia’s ice-hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
Two of the 43 on board survived the tragedy. Doctors in Moscow’s hospitals continue to struggle to save the men’s lives. The medical condition of ice hockey forward Aleksandr Galimov remains critical. He sustained burns to almost 90 per cent of his body, as well as damage to his respiratory system. The second survivor – crew member Aleksandr Sizov – is in a stable condition.
The three-day mourning in the country ended on Saturday evening after the official ceremony was held in the city of Yaroslav, team’s hometown.
The funerals of 14 team members who lived in Yaroslavl were held on Saturday after the memorial ceremony.
Thousands of fans came to the ice-hockey stadium where the athletes had practiced just a day before the tragedy cut short their lives. They were scheduled to arrive in Belarus and play their season-opening game in Minsk against local side Dinamo.
On Sunday four other victims – crew members Igor Zhevelov and Sergei Zhuravlev and two coaches Igor Korolyov and Aleksandr Karpovtsev have been buried in Moscow.
The accident, which has sent shock waves through many countries abroad, claimed the lives of several international players who played in the Kontinental Hockey League, Europe’s biggest club competition.
There were athletes from Canada, Belarus, Latvia, Germany and Czech Republic. All of them are to be buried in their hometowns.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is underway. Russia’s Investigative Committee considers technical problems and pilot error likely to be main causes of the plane crash.