Russia won't help airlines 'just like that' amid recovery signs, says minister

MOSCOW, April 23 (Reuters) - Russia’s government no longer plans to hand out state support to airlines “just like that” because the civil aviation market is recovering, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev told reporters on Friday.

Passenger air traffic in Russia has been gradually recovering since autumn, primarily on domestic flights, as the government has eased some coronavirus restrictions. But demand, still remains far off pre-crisis levels.

The government provided airlines with support totalling almost 21 billion roubles ($280 million) during the crisis and helped Aeroflot by buying shares in a new share offering worth more than 50 billion roubles.

“To give money out just like that is the easiest path, but it’s the least realistic. We think after all that the market is restoring itself,” he said.

But he said airlines were welcome to appeal to the government for state assistance if they thought they needed it and could justify the reason for their application.

$1 = 75.0114 roubles Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Edmund Blair