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MOSCOW, March 17 (Reuters) - Russia’s airlines could lose 100 billion roubles ($1.4 billion) due to the coronavirus outbreak and risk going bankrupt, the head of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, also known as Rosaviatsiya, told the Interfax news agency. Global airlines and planemaker Boeing are seeking billions of dollars in aid as they battle to survive a plunge in demand caused by the pandemic.
Russian authorities have suspended many flights to and from coronavirus-hit countries.
Losses from cancelling flights to China cost airlines an estimated 1.7 billion roubles in February alone, Rosaviatsiya boss Alexander Neradko said.
The rouble’s fall to four-year lows, hurt partly by sliding oil prices, has raised the risk of bankruptcy, Neradko added.
Russia has reported 93 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but authorities say nobody has died.
“The fall in airlines’ revenues from closing international routes, with a simultaneous increase in expenses due to the rouble’s depreciation could lead to significant losses and difficulties in civil aviation,” said Neradko.
He said the Ministry of Transport and Rosaviatsiya are preparing a plan to support the air travel industry, which includes suspending air navigation fees for flights in some regions of the country.
$1 = 73.7528 roubles Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Maxim Rodionov, Editing by Andrew Osborn/Katya Golubkova/ Kirsten Donovan