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Russian air carriers' profitability falling

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MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Transportation Minister voiced concern Tuesday over the falling profitability of Russian air carriers and said some of them may end up being taken over by Western companies.

Speaking to a Moscow press conference, Igor Levitin said that if fuel prices continue rising, Russian air companies will find it hard to renovate their jet fleets and carry on as independent market operators, having to accept takeover offers from stronger Western counterparts.

He would not say, however, whether any such offers had yet been made.

The minister said the Russian government must do everything possible to prevent hostile mergers in the sector and that one way to prevent them would be for Russian air carriers to consolidate by forming alliances.

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