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Friday, January 16, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Russia Plans To Clip Wings Of `Babyflot' Airline Fleet

Seattle Times Staff: Seattle Times News Services

MOSCOW - Russia said today it will disband the majority of the nation's small airlines - more than 260 in all - in a bid to improve Russia's air-safety record.

By 2000, Russia will have only about eight federal air carriers and 40 to 45 regional airlines - down sharply from the current 315 carriers, said Ivan Valov, first deputy chief of the Russian Federal Aviation Service.

To do that, the government is planning to restrict licensing and certification and bring air-safety standards into compliance with international standards, Valov said.

"Babyflot" airlines, which emerged when the Soviet Union's monopoly carrier Aeroflot broke up seven years ago, have been blamed for a sharp decline in Russia's air safety.

Many of the crashes that occurred in recent years have been blamed on poor maintenance and lax controls at many small carriers, which have neglected flight safety in their run for profit.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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