Minor airlines must get consolidated or merged with leading air companies or quit the market, a deputy prime minister said during a business forum in Moscow on Wednesday.
Russia has seen an increasing number of air crashes in the past year, with the latest accident killing a local hockey team and crew totaling 43 people.
"You will never convince me that 139 air companies can be efficient," Sergei Ivanov said emphatically at the Expert-400 forum.
Ivanov said 15 major airlines were operating in Russia and covering 90% of the passenger traffic, while 120 small companies dealt with the remaining 10%.
Ivanov said the air crashes mostly involved older aircraft with outdated navigation equipment and also dummy airlines operating five to six planes.
Therefore he expressed support for the Russian Aviation Committee's plans to allow long-haul flights only to those air companies that have 10 same-type planes from next year and 20 planes from 2013. This measure will not affect charter and local flights.
The new regulation will involve about 57% of Russian airlines, said Alexander Kasyanov, the head of the Russian transport watchdog.