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Polish airlines may resume international flights in weeks - minister

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s national airline LOT may resume international flights in the next few weeks, State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin said on Monday, as the country gradually lifts restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

State-controlled LOT restarted flights between the country’s biggest cities, including Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow, and Wroclaw, from June 1.

“We hope that within a few weeks we will be able to release information about unfreezing international flights,” Sasin told the news conference.

He said connections to countries included in the so-called Three Seas Initiative - which include the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria - will be reopened first.

Poland, a country of 38 million people, has so far reported 23,987 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, and 1,065 deaths.

Sasin said Polish airports struggling with the effects of a flight ban caused by the pandemic will receive support of 142 million zlotys ($35.8 million) once the measure receives European Commission approval.

Poland was among the first European countries to impose a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, which included travel bans, school closures and a shutdown of its borders. Restrictions have been gradually eased since late April.

Schools are expected to remain closed until the end of June, when children also start summer holidays. Borders will also remain effectively closed until at least mid-June.

Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Jan Harvey