The Russian Transport Ministry should tighten oversight of airlines and upgrade pilot training standards, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Flight safety is an overriding concern, he said, adding that this especially applies to flights in poor weather and low visibility, as well as pilot training.
“Any airline, even it has just one plane… should meet all pilot training standards, and use modern flight simulators,” Putin said, stressing that “the standards should be tough.”
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.
Earlier in the day Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said minor airlines must consolidate or merge with major operators or quit the market.
Fifteen major airlines were operating in Russia, handling 90% of passenger traffic while 120 small companies accounted for the remaining 10%, he said.
The air crashes mostly involved older aircraft with outdated navigation equipment, Ivanov said.
He backed the Russian Aviation Committee's plans to allow long-haul flights only to those airlines 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.