As a means of survival, Russian airlines allowed to ship cargo in passenger cabin

FILE PHOTO: Planes of Aeroflot and Rossiya Airlines are seen parked at Sheremetyevo International Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, outside Moscow, Russia April 8, 2020 REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Seven Russian airlines have received permission to transport cargo in the passenger cabin, when no passengers are on board, as the coronavirus outbreak has halted the majority of flights, the Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsiya said on Thursday.

International passenger flights, with the exception of those bringing Russian home from abroad, have all been suspended, leaving airlines looking for alternative ways to make money.

Domestic flights within Russia have continued to operate, but demand for them has also sharply fallen.

State carrier Aeroflot AFLT.MM and it's unit, Rossiya Airlines, have been included on the list, along with Ural Airlines, Nordwind Airlines, Azur Air, Ikar and Royal Flight. The list could be added to, Rosaviatsiya said.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin pledged more than 23 billion roubles ($309 million) in support to airlines, with Russia’s citizens told to stay at home since the beginning of April in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Katya Golubkova