Smog leads to record number of airline departures from Moscow
A recordnumber of passengers since the beginning of 2010 departed Moscow on August 8 amid heavy smog in the city, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, said on Monday.
Moscow`s airports faced their first problems on August 4, when several planes had to land in alternative airports amid fires and smog across Central Russia.
On Sunday, 104,044 passengers left Moscow`s three major international airports for other cities within Russia and abroad after a backlog of flights from delays over the weekend.
The peak in the delay of air flights came on Saturday and the beginning of Sunday. However, the situation slightly normalized by Sunday evening. According to the Rosaviatsia spokesman, 879 planes came to Moscow on Sunday, and 845 planes left the city.
The smog severely enveloped the Russian capital on August 6, when many flights were redirected to the cities of Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg and others.
Peat bog and forest fires raging outside the capital pushed pollution levels to new 2010 highs on Saturday, with carbon monoxide 6.5 times the maximum allowable concentration.
Despite the fact that fires and acrid smog across Russia have left passengers stranded in airports for many hours, airlines said they will not suffer heavy losses, the Vedomosti daily said on Monday.
There have been no cancellations of flights in Russia yet, that`s why companies will not have to pay indemnities to passengers, Yelena Sakhanova from the VTB Capital financial group told the paper.
All of Moscow`s airports of are equipped to accommodate airplanes even in zero visibility, head of Rosaviatsia Sergei Izvolsky said. However, only the most experienced pilots can land in such conditions, he added.
Most of the spokesmen for airliners operating in Russia told the paper that their companies are operating normally.
Earlier this year, the vast majority of Russian and European companies suspended flights for several weeks due to the eruption of Iceland`s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Airlines are estimated to have lost $1.7 billion over the disruption to air traffic, according to a report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).