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    MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian civil air transport began developing at a slower pace in September 2004, Karl Ruppel, director of the Transportation Ministry civil aviation state policy department said Tuesday summing up the eleven months of 2004.

    "One of the main factors behind it is the growth of exploitation expenses of airlines in view of an unpredictable increase in kerosene prices. In many airports of the country, kerosene prices grew seven- to ten-fold within a year, while the average price for a ton of fuel increased by over 40%," said Ruppel.

    At the same time, he continued, the major indices of air traffic development saw a positive trend before September 2004.

    "Before the end of 2004, 33.7 million passengers are to be transported, while the growth in passenger traffic will therefore account for over 114% on 2003. Besides, 652,000 metric tons of cargoes and mail will be transported too, with the growth accounting for over 105%," said Ruppel.

    He added that air passenger traffic was expected to total 83 billion passengers per km, a 117% increase on 2003.

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