MOSCOW - A Russian official said on Tuesday the country could hike tariffs for European Union planes flying in its airspace if a compromise is not reached over new EU noise pollution standards.
Moscow says EU Stage 3 requirements on aircraft engine noise, which are set to be introduced on April 1, could ban up to 80 percent of its planes from European skies because the bulk of the clunking civilian fleet is Soviet-built and little money for upgradings is available.
"We could ask the Western airlines to pay higher tariffs. If we pay for noise control they should too," said Vladimir Masyonkov an official at Russia's State Civil Aviation Service.
He added the service's head, Alexander Neradko, would go to Canada at the end of February with a team of Transport Ministry officials for talks to try and extend the April 1 deadline.
Russian Transport Minister, Sergei Frank, last week warned that retaliation was on the cards if no compromise was reached.
Masyonkov said the aviation service wanted exact details of which Russian aircraft would be admitted to what airspace and on what basis.
"Nobody has the right to ban a plane which was flying before. We are willing to upgrade them if they are noisy," said Masyonkov.
The service has said Stage 3 would force Russia to cancel 11,000 flights in 2002 and cut annual passenger turnover by three million, or around 12 percent.
Aeroflot and other top carriers have added Airbus and Boeing jets in recent years and use compliant aircraft for most flights. But many Russian carriers, particularly those making charter flights to Europe, use old Soviet Ilyushins and Tupolevs.
Alexander Morozov, head of the Transport Ministry's international department, said last week that Russia needed three to four years to renovate its fleet.