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Slovakia: Russian Airline May Aid Start of Slovak National Airline

Bratislava, 16 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Officials of Russia's Aeroflot airline are helping Slovaks start a national carrier that may be called Slovakia Airlines, Slovak Airport Authority Director Igor Dula said yesterday.

Since the break-up of the Czechoslovak Federation in 1993, Slovakia has been left without a national airline. Earlier this month, a top Aeroflot official, Jevgeni Ivanovic Saposnikov, visited Bratislava and met government officials as well as Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar to discuss co-operation.

The Russians are set to provide from four to six airplanes for the new airline, two of which may be delivered as soon as this fall, according to RFE/RL's correspondent.

It is still too early to say when the new airline will begin operating, said Dula. But he did say the airline will be a "big advantage" to Bratislava's Stefanik Airport.

Last year almost 200,000 passengers used the Bratislava airport, a 33 percent increase over 1994. However, that is a fraction compared to the more than eight million passengers -- many of them Slovaks -- who used Vienna's Airport last year.

Aeroflot officials are also seeking to increase the number of flights to Chicago from Bratislava's Stefanik Airport, said Dula. The one flight to the United States is currently "quite busy," he said. Aeroflot also operates regular flights from Bratislava to Moscow.